Many back injuries occur during lifting. To help protect your back and avoid painful injury, follow these safer lifting tips:
- First, plan and prepare for the lift. It only takes a moment to ensure your safety, but the pain of a back injury can be long lasting!
- Ensure you have a safe and clear path.
- Before beginning, think through the lift.
- Get a good footing with a wide base of support by placing your feet a minimum of shoulder width apart. This lowers your center of gravity and increases your stability.
- Keep the load close! Keeping the load you are lifting close to your body can reduce stress on your spine and back muscles. Think of how a lever and fulcrum works. Your back muscles, spine, and arms are the parts that form this lever system. The force needed to lift an object is lower if the load is nearer the fulcrum point. If the load is too far away from your body, the muscles of your spine have to work harder to help with the lift. This puts too much stress on the muscles of your spine and can cause injury.
- Maintain the neutral spine position! By moving the pelvic wheel around its axis, your upper body hinges forward while your spine stays in neutral. Keep the neutral spine position at all times!
- Remember to lift with the large muscles of your legs!
- Do not twist and bend your lower back at the same time! This is one the most damaging movements to the spine. To avoid twisting, pivot your feet to complete the lift.
- Get help if necessary! If the load is too bulky or heavy, do not hesitate to get help or use a hand truck! Do not be too tough or too busy to get help. Will power does not take the place of a reasonably safe lift.