Proper Lifting Technique for Bad Backs
Everyone knows that you need to be careful when lifting, but we usually think it only applies to lifting heavy objects. Lifting is one of the most common ways to injure your spine, and can often end up causing severe back pain. Whilst you are more likely to hurt yourself when you are lifting heavy things, by not lifting correctly in a controlled manner, it is actually possible to injure your back lifting something as light as a pencil!
The key to proper lifting technique for bad backs is all about keeping your spine in a strong and stable posture. This happens when the spine is in a straight, or neutral, position. It is definitely not when it is bent forward or twisting. In fact if you bend forward and twist at the same time, you have just put your spine in it’s weakest position. Try lifting like that and a back injury could be just around the corner!
So what is good lifting technique.
Well, think of someone who does heavy lifting for a living, and cannot afford any injury time. That would be a weight lifter! No surprises there! If you look at the lifting technique of professional weight lifters you will see the best way to pick up anything, from a shoe on the floor to a loaded barbell.
The four keys to correct lifting are:-
1. Bending your legs, NOT YOUR BACK. All the strength when lifting should be coming from your legs and hips.
2. Maintaining your normal spinal arched curvature. That is, keeping your low back arched, or extended, back. The best way to think of this is to hold your head up and ’stick your butt out!’ As soon as you start to bend forward from your waist the spinal muscles will take the load of your lift. This is bad because these muscles are just not strong enough.
3. Do not twist or rotate. Keep square on to whatever it is your are lifting. The more you twist, the weaker your back will be.
4. Keep it close. Hold the object your are lifting as close to your body as possible. The further away you hold it, the more likely you are to injure yourself. For every foot you hold something out from your body, you multiply the strain on your spine by 10 times!
That’s really all there is to proper lifting technique for bad backs. Of course if you do need to lift a heavy object, try and get someone to help you out. If you are on your own, remember to get as close as you can, keep the object straight in front and as close as possible to you, bend your legs to lower yourself down, and keep your head up and your back as straight as you can. Remember those Olympic weightlifters, and stick your butt right out! Try to lift like a forklift, not a crane.
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