Whether at work or in your everyday life, lifting items probably seems like a common occurrence.
However, improper lifting techniques can potentially cause serious injury and impede your lifelong health. To counteract this, we’ve created an explanation of safe lifting techniques to help you reduce back pain.
How Can You Injure Yourself By Lifting Improperly?
Depending on where you work and how healthy you already are, unsafe lifting techniques can greatly increase your risk of injury. For instance, picking up a heavy object from the ground without correct lifting techniques can lead to muscle tears and sprains in your back (especially your lower back).
If your lifting form is bad enough and you are lifting a heavy enough item, you could even give yourself a hernia or put unnecessary pressure on your lumbar vertebrae! Other possible lifting injuries include damage to your rotator cuff, or excessive strain on your cervical spine if you turn your neck during a lift.
Think Before You Lift
Before you crouch down to back up that heavy box, chair, or another item, take a moment to prepare yourself for the lift.
Acquaint yourself with your immediate environment, meaning that you know both the area that the item currently is and where you intend to move it to. Mentally plan out your route from Point A to Point B, being mindful of any possible obstacles or distractions.
Finally, if you’re worried that you can’t handle the heavy object on your own, there’s no shame in asking for help from a friend, relative, or coworker. As long as the item ends up where it’s supposed to, you’ll have done the right thing.
The Steps to Proper Lifting Technique
First, establish correct body positioning by placing your feet shoulder-width apart, with an imaginary parallel line running vertically through your heels, waist, and shoulders.
Next, slightly bend your knees and hips while reaching down to get a grip on the item you’re about to lift. Keep a flat back as you do so, neither hunching nor over-arching your back. Depending on the size and shape of the item, you may have to squat higher or lower to get the right grip.
Once you have a good grip on the object, take a deep breath to brace your abdomen. Keep your back and upper body as straight as possible, and look directly ahead as you carefully straighten your knees and hips at the same time. As you lift with your leg muscles, ensure that the object stays as close to your body as possible.
Once you’ve raised the item enough that your entire body is standing at full height, take careful steps toward your destination, keeping your eyes open without moving your neck. Take breaths, but don’t let out a deep exhale or you’ll lose the pressure that is keeping your core firmly braced.
Once you reach the place where you want to drop off the item, take another deep breath to stabilize your abdomen, then carefully set the object down. Once again, keep your back straight as you bend with your hips and knees.
Can Wearing a Back Belt Help Prevent Injuries?
A back belt is only as effective as its user. It isn’t a magic charm that will perfectly keep you from getting injured; but if used correctly, it is a good supplement to physical strength and proper technique.
Like a weightlifting belt, a worker’s back belt functions by providing something for your abdomen to push against as you take in a deep breath to brace your core. By holding their breaths during a heavy lift and exhaling after the lift is completed, powerlifters and weightlifters take advantage of the Valsalva maneuver to increase the internal pressure of their core.
This pressure turns the normally flexible abdominal area into a strong, firm core that protects your back against injury during weight training exercises. When your abdomen has something to brace against, such as a tight, sturdy belt, your abdomen is able to exert more force and thereby increase the internal pressure that safeguards your back and decreases the risk of injury.
To get the most use out of a back belt, control your breathing whenever you execute a lift. Take a deep, heavy belly breath before lifting, then carefully release the breath after you’ve lifted the object.
Contact Deep Roots Health Center to Schedule an Appointment Today
If you’ve ever been injured at home or on the job, are you looking for a chiropractor who can help you finally live pain-free?
Deep Roots Health Center is here to help! We specialize in Neurological-Based Chiropractic care and can help with various issues, including back pain, neck pain, headaches & migraines, sleep problems, asthma & allergies, posture correction, sciatica & disc bulge, and pregnancy back pain.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you get to better health!