Summer Time and Correct Lifting

Summer Time and Correct Lifting

Posted July 6, 2010 by backsafe®

It is summertime, a time when outdoor activity increases significantly.  It is the season for barbeques, beaches, yard work, golf and perhaps just settling in a lawn chaise to read a good book.

None of these activities are pleasurable when you have a painful back!  Do you know that most back injuries are caused by physical stress that innocently accumulates over time?   That’s right!  Chances are you were never taught how to do typical daily activities like getting in and out of a car; lifting a cooler into and out of a trunk; lifting kids or laundry; or how to shovel dirt in your garden.  80% of us will have a back incident in our lives due to improper usage of our bodies!  The good news is this means that life altering back pain is preventable

The first thing to know is that you can have control over whether or not you will ever have a back injury by simply learning more about what our backs like and don’t like.  Preventing the little daily innocent stresses that add up to eventually cause you pain is key.  

Here is a suggestion that you can work on.  Do NOT “hinge” at the waist when lifting.  Your lower back does not like when you bend over to lift something.  It can cause significant and continuous pressure on your lumbar spine and disks.  Your “lumbar curve” should be maintained as much as possible when lifting, thus the adage: “use your legs” when lifting.  By planning ahead you can frequently avoid lifting from the ground.  Before loading the cooler, place the empty cooler on a table or raised surface–anything that will help you to avoid bending.  When re-potting plants, don’t do it on the ground, have a table or bench or something that helps you to maintain an upright position.  

Do this simple exercise to help you break the habit of bending over when lifting.  In order for you to recognize the perilous behavior, stand up and bend slightly at the waist.  Remember, this is an at-risk motion so bend minimally so that you can experience the feeling of what you should NOT be doing!  Good!  Now that you know how this feels, you will be more aware when you lift incorrectly so that you can catch yourself and do it more safely. 

Next, place your feet shoulder width apart for good balance and elevate up and down without bending at the waist.  This is the optimum lifting stance.  My guess is that you just realized that you bend at the waist a lot!  This is a main reason why countless lives are ruined by back injuries. 

Use your legs to raise and lower your body, not your back.  Each time you do this you will be strengthening and toning your leg muscles versus weakening and hurting your back. 

Thinking ahead a little and using correct lifting techniques can become a life long habit.  If you need more information or help, we’d be happy to assist!  Good luck!