One of the best ways to keep your back pain-free, and one that all too many overlook, is the fine art of proper lifting.
Think about how you lift a heavy object, for example, a box filled with books. Do you just bend over from the waist to lift it? If so, you are putting yourself at serious risk for pain and damage.
Here are the steps required for proper lifting:
- Sizing up the situation– Do you know where you’re going? Do you know the weight of the object to be lifted? Do you have a clear path from Point A to Point B? Do you need a partner to help you, based on the weight and/or shape of the object to be lifted? Get the “lay of the land” before you begin.
- Keep it close– When lifting any object, it’s best to carry it close to your body, rather than holding it out in front of you with your arms extended. This keeps you, and the object you are lifting, more balanced
- Spread your feet shoulder-width apart– Again, this makes it easier for you to stay balanced and provides the firm foundation and footing needed to maneuver an object safely.
- Bend at the knees– This is critical. When getting ready to actually lift an object, bend at the knees and keep your back straight. The same holds for putting the object back down.
- Tighten up those abs– Holding your stomach muscles tight helps transfer some of the load from your back.
- Make your legs do the work – Your legs have some very strong muscles – use them to help you lift an object. This also helps prevent too much stress on your back.
- Give yourself a break– If heavy lifting is a regular part of your job, take frequent breaks. The muscles in your arms and legs get tired, and when they do, you are at greater risk for injury.