18 Tue

When you go shopping, don’t buy a case of the low back blues

‘Tis the season… Or so they say, ‘tis the shopping season.  When you’re hitting the malls this year, don’t let your packages weigh you down and hurt your back.  Lifting a heavy gift or package can be that straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak.  Don’t let this holiday season be a painful one.

Lifting any object, whether it’s a pencil or a plasma television, can cause undue stress on the back if done incorrectly.  Your back is a series of bones (vertebrae) stacked on one another, separated by a spongy disc. This structure can withstand a great deal of loading if done correctly.  The spine has natural curves in it that can help distribute force.  But when we move and lift, we can easily lose those curves, and with that, we lose the spine’s ability to withstand force.

You’ve probably heard it before somewhere that you should lift with your legs and not your back.  It sounds simple, but if done incorrectly, it may not work as you planned.  Here’s some tips that may prevent your “Ho Ho Ho” season from becoming a “Ho Ho OH NO! “season…

  1. Check the weight, don’t try and lift a box that may be too heavy for you.  Use your leg to try and move the box and see if you can handle it.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles.  But don’t hold your breath. (More on that in later posts)
  3. Keep the package as close to you as possible, the farther it is, the more torque on your back.
  4. Keeping your back in a neutral position by engaging your abdominals, squat down, bending your hips and knees, keeping your feet flat.
  5. Lift with the legs, pushing through your heels to engage the stronger muscles of your hips.

There are different ways to perform a lift.  A physical therapist from Professional Physical Therapy and Training can show you the different ways to lift a package and save your back to make this season a healthy and safe one.

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