26 Thu

Safe lifting techniques

Safe lifting techniques

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


Low back pain is common, but some cases such as a sprain or strain can be prevented by following some simple rules when lifting and moving objects:

1.  Check the weight.  Always check the weight of the object before attempting to lift it by attempting to move it with your foot.

2.  Keep it close.  The closer the weight is to your center of gravity, the less torque and strain on your lower back.

3.  Keep your back flat.  Keeping your back flat doesn’t mean that you need to keep it straight vertical.  Just like in the squatting movement, the hips and knees move and there’s a forward lean to the trunk but your spine stays neutral by engaging your core muscles.

4.  Engage your core.  Concentrate by pulling in your belly button into your spine, but don’t hold your breath.  Contracting the core acts like a abdominal binder that cinches in the back and mid-section to create a stable connection between your legs and your arms.

5.  Use your legs.  To properly use the legs, review the squat posts here and here.  Keep your feet flat, push with the heels, and drop the hips, especially to lift heavier objects from the floor.  The lower you can go with your hips and the more you can bend your knees with your feet flat, the less strain you place on your low back.

6.  Keep it in front.  Never, never, never combine a lift with a rotation of you spine.  If you need to lift something and place it on a table or shelf to the side, pick it straight up, and then use your legs to step around until you’re facing the table or shelf.  Never lift and turn at the same time.  Rotational forces combined with lifting force is probably the best recipe to get your back hurt.

7.  Get some help.  Last but not least, try to get some help.  The more people you have to lift the object, the less likely that one of you will become hurt during the lift or movement.

Some people may tell you to always lift with your legs and never with your back.  I’ll go one step more and say always lift with your head.  Taking a moment or two to assess the situation and remember the correct lifting techniques will help in the long run to save your back from injury.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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