Tips for A Healthy Back: How to Lift Heavy Objects Safely
People usually think they know how to lift heavy objects correctly and safely, then they’re shocked when they suddenly become injured during a simple lift. Lifting involves much more than just bending your knees in order to avoid doing some serious damage to your back.
Our tips for a healthy back will discuss the proper techniques to use when you’re lifting, the common ways people injure their backs when lifting, and some tips on how you can prevent injuries in the future.
Basic Safety Practices in the Office
Even with the best ergonomic chair for back support, you can have issues with ongoing back pain if you don’t take the proper precautions to protect yourself during heavy lifting. In the office, even if you’re stuck behind a desk most of the day, you can still run into issues ranging from carpal tunnel and sore muscles to strained eyesight. Knowing if an LED or LCD screen is better for your eyes and making the switch and using self-massage tips at your desk can help get you through the day, but when you use improper lifting techniques in the workplace, you’re setting yourself up for a serious injury, even if you’re not lifting heavy.
Common Types of Back Injuries in the Workplace
Here is a list of the most common types of back injuries and what causes them:
Basic muscle injury: If you get out of position when you’re lifting, this can put a lot of stress and strain on the lower back muscles. When the demand is just too much it can cause severe muscle injury.
So, what happens with a muscle injury?
Basically, the high amount of stress causes tiny tears to form in the muscle tissue. This is referred to as muscle strain, but in some instances, it can be very serious, it’s also the most common back injury that occurs during a lift.
This type of back injury can be debilitating, severely limiting your range of motion. A mild muscle strain can heal in a matter of days, but a severe strain can take several weeks or even months, especially if you have a physically demanding job.
Disc injury: The intervertebral discs in the back work like cushions and ball bearings between the vertebrae. These discs consist of fibrous rings which can break open, rupture, or bulge when an injury occurs. Disc injuries in the lower back can cause intense pain that radiates down the legs and will affect your mobility and overall quality of life.
Joint injury: The are several joints where the bones meet bones in the back. Usually, these joints can handle a great deal of stress. But if you use poor lifting techniques, even when you’re carrying a lighter load, this added stress can irritate the joints, causing them to lock.
The Three Golden Rules: How to Avoid A Back Injury at Work
Keeping the chest forward-When you’re lifting, make sure you bend at the hips, not the lower back. Commonly, people think that bending their knees signals the proper lifting technique, however, just because your knees are bent doesn’t mean you’re protecting your back. Remember, bend at the hips, pushing the chest out and forward.
If you continue to use poor form and only bend at the knees this can still allow the back to curve, increasing your chances of injury. Keeping your chest pointing up and out guarantees a straight back. The muscles in the back will then be used more effectively and will maintain the proper posture throughout the duration of the lift. Your knees will automatically bend so the muscles in the hips and legs will produce more lifting power as well.
Leading with your hips-Another common, dangerous mistake that can lead to back injury is twisting. When you lift, the shoulders should be kept in line with the hips in order to avoid twisting. When you need to change directions, lead with the hips, which will cause the shoulders to move in unison.
If you accidentally move the shoulders first, the hips will lag, which is what creates the dangerous twisting that can lead to injury.
Hold weight close to your body-When lifting, keep the object as close to your body as possible. The further away an object is held from your center of gravity, the more force is required in order to hold the object. This extra force will run through the lower back. Because of this, the closer you hold an object, the less likely it will lead to a potentially serious back strain.
Different Types of Lifting Techniques
These techniques can work great for most lifting situations and should be used whenever possible.
Golfer’s lift: The golfer’s lift is a great technique to use in order to avoid a back injury when you’re picking up smaller items off the ground. When you use this technique, you won’t bend your knees. One leg should come off the ground behind you, working as a sort of counter-balance. Your opposite hip will bend and your body will become almost parallel with the floor, with the exception of the weight-bearing leg. You’ll use one arm to pick up the object on the floor, while the other arm remains hanging in a stationary position.
Use Momentum: Using momentum is a type of lifting method that can be especially helpful when it comes to avoiding a back injury when you’re lifting heavy objects above waist level. If you use this method correctly, it will appear more like you’re using controlled movements to toss an object. A lifter will continue moving toward the destination of the object, swinging the object up to the surface. This allows the object to move away from the body, using momentum to help raise it. This type of lifting technique requires much less effort from the lifter.
Not every lifting situation will allow you to use the proper body mechanics, but when you follow these techniques on a regular basis whenever possible, they will work to significantly reduce your chances of sustaining a back injury when you’re lifting.