What’s the Best Way to Lift Things Safely?

man lifting a box

If I had a dollar for every time someone came in here because they’d wrecked their back lifting something incorrectly, those dollar bills would probably circumnavigate the globe.

People sometimes get into an “auto-pilot” state and fail to think critically about what they’re doing.  When they realize they’ve made a mistake, it’s too late.  They’re doubled over at the waist, re-acquainting themselves with the floor.

While most of us know what we’re supposed to do when lifting things, few of us do it.  So, here I am, filling you in on the best way to lift things safely.

Read on, before you lift that box of encyclopedias off the floor and wind up in my office.

Light or heavy – doesn’t matter

Whether the object you’re lifting is a box of encyclopedias or a kid’s toy, doing it improperly will catch up with you.  The effect may not be immediate.  It may manifest later, becoming chronic low back pain.

That’s because when you bend over to lift something, the curve at the base of your spine goes from concave to convex or straight.  This places pressure on the lumbar vertebrae, which can lead to either an immediate or eventually herniation – the dreaded bulging disc.

Proper lifting procedure

So, prior to lifting your object, it’s important that you stop and consider what you’re about to ask your body to do for you.  And then, you’re going to do it like this:

Get up close and personal with whatever you’re lifting.  Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Consciously tighten your abdominal muscles.  This will stop the curve in your back from reversing because your abs are supporting it.

With a straight back, bend your knees as you prepare to lift.  Keep the object close to your body and straighten your legs – as opposed to straightening from the waist – to lift it up.

Throughout the lift, your back should remain straight and only your leg muscles should be doing the work.

Whatever you do, don’t twist your body to put the load down in its intended position.  Instead, take small steps to turn and move toward the desired position.

When you’re ready to put the object you’re lifting down, use your leg muscles again.

PRO-TIP:  Throughout the process, look straight ahead.  This visually sets you up to maintain your spine in alignment through the lifting process.

Don’t be a tough guy or gal.  If whatever you’re wanting to lift is ridiculously heavy, enlist some help or use a dolly.  Screwing up your back so you can seem super strong is not a good look – on you or anyone else.

Back & Body Medical

Did you lift a box of encyclopedias before you read this?  Ouch!

Back & Body Medical is a multi-disciplinary clinic which specializes in pain relief.  As a chiropractor, I work with a team of acupuncturists, sports medicine specialists and physical therapists.  If you’re hurting, we’ve got what you need to get back to feeling more like yourself.

Contact us.  We’ll straighten you out.

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