Proper Lifting Techniques

We use our back every day, whether we realize it or not.  We twist, bend, push, pull, and lift all day long.  Most of us don’t pay much attention to the movements and back muscles involved in these everyday actions. That is, until we pull a muscle in our back and have trouble doing simple things like sitting, walking, or even getting in and out of bed.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, there have been an average of nearly 270,000 reported back or spine injuries each year from 2003 to 2006.  Fortunately, these numbers are steadily decreasing(303,750 in 2003, down to 250,670 in 2006), so progress is being made.

Most injuries probably could have been avoided by paying a little more attention to what we are doing and how we are doing it.  Proper lifting techniques and using team lifting for heavier or awkward items help reduce the strain on your back muscles.

  • Keep objects close to your body: Carrying objects close to your body helps keep the “load center” in balance.  The farther from the body the item is, the more muscle strength needed to lift the item.  This forces the muscles to move in ways they are not designed to move, which can cause a strain or pull.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight: Focusing on keeping your back straight reduces the chances of twisting or bending in such a way that puts stress or strain on the muscles
  • Lift with your legs: Your leg muscles are designed to lift.  Using your leg muscles makes it easier to lift the item, as well as take the strain off your back.

Some jobs or hobbies require constant lifting and carrying.  In these situations, it may be helpful to utilize a back support. They come in many different styles and are fairly inexpensive($17-$36). When compared to the national average of around $9,000 per incident for non-surgery medical expenses ($30,000+ for injuries requiring surgery), $36 and a bit of prevention is well worth the time and cost.