Many of us can’t make it through the day without being asked the question, “do you even lift?”. Even with today’s fitness rage, many of us would respond “no” to this abrupt question. Although most of us aren’t doing any Olympic weight lifting we could all still respond with an “absolutely” when asked if we do any lifting because in reality every human on Earth does some form of lifting every day. Hopefully after reading this you will have a better understanding of how many times you lift in a given day and how to properly complete these lifts without damaging your body.
Studies have shown that manual handling has been reported to be the cause of over a third of all injuries in the workplace.Also, a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 75% of back injuries at work happened during lifting tasks.So you can see how vital it is to learn how to lift properly. And by following these tips you can do just that:
Warm up before lifting
How common is it for people to complain of pulling muscles while lifting? That feeling of 'throwing your back out' as your body seizes up mid-lift. And one of the main reason that this happens (alongside poor lifting technique) is when people try to lift heavy loads with cold muscles. Seriously don't do it, you are just asking for trouble. Because lifting doesn't just involve your large muscle groups. It also works your smaller connecting muscles and tissues too. And when you don't warm these up first you are at far greater risk of pulling or aggravating something. So before you start work have a stretch and warm-up for a couple of minutes to get your muscles warm and ready for the task ahead. This will loosen your body up and get your blood pumping. And not only will you lower your risk of injury by doing this, you'll also perform better during the day too.
Adopt a stable position
Getting yourself into a good, stable position before you lift will reduce any strain on your lower back. Ultimately you want to keep your body as strong and balanced as possible when lifting. So keep your feet about shoulder width apart and place one foot slightly in front of the other and beside the object for balance. Also get as close to the object you are lifting as you can.Now you are ready for the lift.
Use proper lifting technique
Once you are in the correct position it is all about your lifting technique. Now there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you lift. Firstly you want to make sure you always lift using your legs and not your back. Also don't bend your back when lifting.Keep looking forward instead of down. And remember to keep breathing!
Steps for proper lifting:
Squat down next to the object to be lifted by bending at the hips and knees.
Look forward and keep your back straight as you do this.
Once there get a good grip onto the object.
Keeping your back straight and looking forward, engage your core muscles and slowly lift the load by straightening your legs and hips.
Exhale as you do this.
Keep your elbows close into your body as you lift to reduce any strain.Also keep the load close to your waist as this will reduce the amount of pressure on your back. The heaviest part of the load should be closest to you.
Keep your movements smooth as you lift, as jerky and rushed movements can lead to pulled muscles.
Remember to keep breathing throughout each part of the lift.
Once lifted keep the load close to the body in the area between your waist and solar plexus.
Don’t twist while lifting
Twisting while lifting or carrying a heavy object is another big cause of back injuries. You need to remain balanced at all times when lifting. But when you twist while holding a heavy load you are losing that balance and putting your body under strain. So make sure your shoulders are facing the same way as your hips at all times. And if you need to turn while holding an object use your feet to do so not your waist. But only do this once the load has been fully lifted. Never twist or turn during the lift!
Don’t lift a load that’s too heavy
We may think of ourselves as strong men and become overconfident or tempted to show off amongst our workmates. But don't let your ego get the better of you. Because lifting something that is too heavy is going to put your back under serious pressure. So if you have a heavy or awkward object to lift take the sensible option. Either use a trolley to move it. Or ask someone to give you a hand.
Put the load down properly
It's not just lifting and carrying things that leads to back pain. How you put the load down is also vitally important to get right. Because by throwing or dropping the load, or bending your back as you lower it down, you are putting your back under pressure. So instead complete the proper lifting technique mentioned above again but in reverse.