Many people hurt their back by trying to move large, heavy furniture, which can happen even to big burly guys. Lifting furniture the wrong way can cause serious back injury that can take weeks or even years to heal; however, there are ways of doing it that are safer for your back. Following are a few tips:
Lift from the legs – Probably the most commonly-known technique for lifting heavy objects, this is a procedure still too often neglected. Squat in front of the piece of furniture you are moving, then, while keeping your stomach muscles tightened, grip the furniture securely and stand up by using your leg muscles. Be sure to avoid bending over as you stand up and try to keep your back as vertical as possible.
Wear gloves – Gloves allow for a better grip on the furniture you are lifting, in addition to helping avoid splinters and cuts from sharp edges.
Get help – Have another person help you. Two people moving a piece of furniture halves the weight and makes it easier to move, with less risk of damaging your back or the piece of furniture.
Use a dolly, hand truck or other sliding device – A dolly is an easy way to move a large piece of furniture if you have to go any distance. All you have to do is lift the furniture onto the dolly and off you go. If you just intend to move the furniture to the other side of the room, however, you can either slip some old pieces of carpet under the legs and slide it, if the floor is smooth, such as on linoleum, or if the furniture is on carpet you can purchase a set of furniture sliders for about $12 that will allow you to easily slide the furniture over carpeting.
Wear a back brace – Many professional moving companies require their employees to use a back brace when working. It gives extra support to both your lower back and abdominal muscles, and allows your back to move as one unit, making sure there is not any one area of your back doing all the work. They are inexpensive and can be found in most department stores.
Stretch your back before moving – Stretching will warm up your muscles and help prevent injury. Start by stretching your arms up above your head, then bring your arms down and bend forward, starting by dropping your head to your chest, then bending vertebrae by vertebrae, letting your arms hang limply. Don’t bounce when you reach the bottom, just let your weight gently stretch out your back. Remain there for about 30 seconds, then come up, again, vertebrae by vertebrae.
By following these simple suggestions, you can help avoid damage to your back. But be aware of your own limitations. If something is too heavy for you, it is far less expensive to hire a professional to move it than to pay the medical bills associated with a back injury.