It is very important to lift heavy objects in a safe manner otherwise you could be putting your back, shoulders, knees and other joints at risk of injury. Using safe postures and techniques while lifting will minimize the stress and load through your spine and other joints. This is particularly important if you are lifting a very heavy object or if you are lifting repetitively. As well, when you lift with good form, you will be strengthening and stimulating the right muscles including your core, glutes and other stabilizing muscles.
Tips for lifting safely
1. Lifting can be taxing on your muscles and joints so make sure that your body is properly warmed up before you start to lift. Warm ups should include movements and positions that will be required of your trunk and limbs while lifting. For example, lift your arms up to the ceiling, twist your torso both ways, squat down keeping your back straight in addition to performing a few deep side lunges to improve the mobility in your hips.
2. Get your body as close to the object you are lifting as possible.
3. Position your feet in a wide stance (a bit wider then shoulder width) in order to improve your balance and stability. This position will allow you to develop more power in your legs while you lift.
4. Try to keep your back straight when you are lowering and while you are lifting the object. It is better to bend your knees and hips so that you do not strain your back or injure your disc. You may refer to our previous blog on bending for more tips on how to bend the right way.
5. Try not to twist your spine as you are lifting. Try to center your body with the object and once you have lifted it you may turn your body by taking steps with your legs. Twisting, while your back is flexed and with load can be hard on your discs and lead to injury.
6. In addition to the point above, think about what you are lifting and how far you will be carrying the object. Try to set yourself up in such a way that will limit the distance that you will have to move the object. Clear the pathway in advance and plan as much as possible.
7. If it is possible, try to reduce the weight of the object by breaking it apart into smaller items. This will allow you to do several smaller and lighter lifts instead of one unsafe lift. In addition, this strategy will enable you to pace yourself and take rest breaks in between each lift.
8. Try to carry the load in the space between your shoulder and waist to reduce strain on your low back. Also, try to get a good grip of the load. If possible, hug the load tightly and close to your upper abdomen instead of gripping the load with your fingers or hands.
9. If you feel pain while lifting, lower the object slowly and stop immediately. Ask for help before continuing. Pain is a signal from your central nervous system warning you when there is harm being imposed on your body. Take this type of sign seriously.
10. Breath. Do not hold your breath because that can increase intra-abdominal pressure and increase the potential for injury. Breathe out as you lift the object up off the ground and continue to breath normally as you move the object to the desired location.
11. Always to use tools that will aid in lifting and transporting heavy objects such as a dolly, a cart and/or a hand truck if they are available to you.
Remember that the team at Rebalance Sports Medicine is here to help if you have hurt your back while lifting. Don’t wait too long to be checked out by one of our highly skilled Physiotherapists, Chiropractors or Registered Massage Therapists. Contact us today for more information.