Your cousin hurt his back moving furniture. Your sister ruptured a disc by lifting her baby and a heavy bag of groceries.
We all probably know someone who’s injured their back by lifting an object that was too heavy, or by lifting it incorrectly.
Unfortunately, a moment’s wrong move can cause all kinds of problems, ranging from muscle strain to back or joint injuries.
“It’s very easy to hurt yourself when lifting,” said Richard Weiss, M.D., M.B.A., chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Carilion Clinic. “You really want to stop, think and use proper technique.”
Health care pros make a habit of following proper technique to keep their back safe, and the rest of us should too.
Before lifting something, think about whether it may be too heavy or too big for you to lift. Can you remove some of the weight to make it lighter? If not, consider using a dolly.
“If you decide you can lift it safely, bend your legs and use your leg muscles as you lift,” said Dr. Weiss. “Be careful not to bend from your waist.”
Follow these steps:
- Tighten your abdominal muscles
- Hold the object close to your body
- Make sure you have a firm grip on it
- Squat and keep your back straight when you put the object down
Be sure your path is clear and use your feet to pivot when turning to avoid twisting your back.
Good technique is even recommended when you lift lighter objects, especially if they are on the floor.
Here’s how to do it:
- Keep one hand on a secure structure and bend forward, lifting one leg off the floor
- Pick up the object
- Lift it as you stand up straight again
If you do hurt yourself when lifting, seek treatment as soon as possible to help prevent the injury from becoming a source of chronic pain.