Many a day lying in bed groaning in pain and taking muscle-relaxants could be spared if people followed some basic techniques in lifting objects. Lifting objects that are awkward, heavy, or too far away can cause immediate extreme pain from which recovery takes weeks (and in some cases might trigger a longer term problem). Avoid back pain by following some basic guidelines.
With the object closely in front of you, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart but generally facing forward. As you bend your knees, keep your back straight and in line with your neck, and keep your shoulders and neck loose. Your pelvis should not be tucked in as this means that your lower back is rounded. Tighten your abdominal muscles – this will give your lower back some extra support. Grab the object. Your hands should be in a place that secures your hold as much as possible. Lift slowly and steadily keeping the object close to you. Do not twist while you are holding the weight; instead turn with your legs. When setting the object down reverse the steps. Stop with your legs shoulder width apart and slowly, but steadily bend your knees and bring the object to the ground all the while keeping your back and neck straight. You’ve done it!
Some tips to keep in mind when lifting:
- Leverage, leverage, leverage. If you can use a cart or dolly to move things, do. Keep the weight close to you so that your larger muscle groups are taking the brunt of the work. (Don’t let your impatience write checks that your back can’t cash!) Don’t lift something (especially if you don’t know its weight) when you have to reach away from you to get it. Before you lift, clear your path; secure your footing and balance. Don’t jerk – even if you are a power lifter, which you are probably not – lift steadily.
- Rest your back between loads and give yourself a chance to relax. Maybe do some light stretches or complete another task while your muscles recover.
- Many of these same guidelines apply when sitting in a chair. Don’t twist from the lower back to grab something behind you. Turn your chair when you can. Twisting from the waist and bending while sitting puts a great deal of strain on the lower back.
- Ask someone too help you. If you think your pride is hurt when you say something is too heavy, just think about how silly you’ll feel when that same person has to bring you your sippy-cup while you are in traction. You’ve heard it before; it is much better to be safe than sorry.