Over the next 2 articles, we are going to look at the best way to lift. In Part 1, we will discuss the correct technique to lift around the house or at work.
In Part 2, we will look at the proper technique of the squat for the gym.
Lifting or picking up heavy objects has become a very routine activity. We often find ourselves picking up something heavy- it could be something simple like a shopping bag or even a box in the garage.
In a study conducted in 2003, they compared two groups of 53 people on their lifting techniques and how it related to low back pain. They found out that the group that lifted with a similar pattern shown in this article had a lesser incidence of low back pain and they could lift heavier objects repetitively.
We also find in our clinics that the incidence of lifting injuries isn’t from a heavy lift but repeated smaller lighter lifts.
When we need to lift something small or light, we often don’t use the correct techniques because we know we can lift it and often think we don’t need to worry about our bodies, or we are rushed to get the object moved. This is where we go wrong.
It is important to maintain a correct lifting technique no matter what you are lifting.
So how should you lift an object without causing injury to your back?
Dr. Cluett, an orthopaedist, has broken down the lifting process into several steps.
In this article, we are going to apply it to the Spinal Symmetry model:
Always keep a clear path in front of you before you lift. Make sure you minimise the risk of falling, as we know that a major fall or a trauma can affect our hips and pelvis, which are our primary foundation and this can upset the whole kinematic chain through our body.
By keeping the object close to the body, we are making sure that the object is not too far from our centre of gravity- which is situated in our sacrum, where we base the work we do in the Spnial Symmetry context. This increases our strength capacity to lift and also reduces the risk of causing the body to be in a strained position for a long time, which can lead to injury.
This is the strongest position your body can be in to do any physical activity. The feet are the base for the pillars of support for the hips, our primary foundation. Being hip width apart, the body is at its strongest because it is how our natural symmetry is designed.
Bending your knees can set you up for a good, strong lift. It can increase the power in the lift, as we have more power in our legs than in our back. By keeping the back straight we also minimise any injury to it.
The stomach muscles, also known as the core, are our natural brace/support. By engaging your stomach muscles prior to a lifting procedure, we engage the whole body and prepare it for lifting.
As mentioned previously, a bend in the knee will prepare you to use your legs for lifting. Using your legs means using less of your back and a lesser chance to injure it.
When we lift and carry an object we are loading our lumbar spine. If you also twist while doing this, the force going through the body is dramatically increased. It is often this twisting movement that causes injuries. If you need to move an object use you’re legs and feet to move around, rather then rotating your body.
Ask a family member or work colleague if the object is straining your body to move. You can also use lifting aids like trolleys, sleds or ropes to help as well.
The steps we’ve discussed to proper lifting are really important.
They are safeguards to potential injuries in the future. It is often overlooked as we think an object does not look too heavy, but it is good to develop a good habit for any lifting activities to minimize trauma.
If you have any questions on these steps to lifting or you have an awkward object you need to lift regularly, ask one of our practitioners the best way to move it so we can stop injuries from occurring rather then trying to fix them once it has already happened.