Before you lift a heavy item, think about it. Ask yourself if you can really manage it and if you really have to lift it. Maybe it would be better to leave it alone or call someone to help you. A doctor can limit the amount of weight you can safely lift for a certain amount of time. But you have to remember that limitations are not about the amount of weight, they are about the way of lifting first of all.
A common misconception is that a heavy object can be lifted because the back muscles are strong. But back muscles are intended to stabilize the spine in a straight position. The spine is held straight with the help of the abdominal and back muscles. Due to the work of the abdominal and back muscles, the intervertebral discs, joints, and the whole spinal column remain straight and in a balanced position. Lifting is done with the thigh muscles, buttocks, and calf muscles, but not with the back.
Lifting of various items and weights happens in our lives constantly. When your back pain eases, you can return to lifting, if you were doing this work earlier. It is very important to follow the rules described below for lifting ANY weight, be it a pencil or a cement block.
RULES OF LIFTING
Lifting of any item, especially of a heavy one, must be planned beforehand. Try to eliminate all obstacles for smooth and safe lifting. To evaluate if lifting an item is safe, raise the item slightly, to evaluate its weight and to see if it is appropriate for your spine to lift it. Do not refuse help from other people. While lifting, keep your back straight, that is, in a balanced position, all the time. Remember that you have to lift the item with the strength of your thighs and buttocks with your hip joints making the greatest moves. Hold the item as close to your body as you can while lifting. This reduces the load on your spine. Tense your abdominal muscles. This will protect your low back. Try to breathe normally. Move smoothly and avoid jerking. Avoid stretching. Bend your hip joints, but not your spine.
CORRECT BALANCED POSITION FOR A SPINE
At every step in the process of lifting, your spine must remain in a balanced position. There are different ways to lift, but the position of the basic parts of your body remains the same. This means that: Your head must be higher than your thighs Your lower back must remain be curved to the inside Your knee and hip joints are slightly bent. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Keep this position both when you start to lift and throughout the entire process.
Compare yourself to a basketball player who is passing a ball: His chest is higher than his thighs, his buttocks remain a bit behind, and his lower back is bent slightly to the inside. This is the correct position. It keeps your spine in a physiological correct position and allows you to use all your strength to lift or pass a load. You’ll notice when your position is NOT correct, your shoulders and your chest are bent down toward your thighs, your feet are too close together, your buttocks are directed downwards, and your lower back bulges out. Avoid this position!
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFTING IN A BALANCED POSITION
This method lets you lift a load from the floor without considerable squatting. This is a commonly-used method of lifting.
Your feet must be placed at shoulder width, with one foot slightly in front of the other. Bend your knees slightly and place your body over the load. Move your body as close to the load as you can, allowing room to bend your hips and knees. Keep your lower back bent to the inside and your buttocks bulged out CONSTANTLY. Grasp the load with your hands and straighten up, keeping your lower back straight. Your chest and your head must be higher you’re your hips. The secret of this method of load lifting is that movement takes place in your hip joints with your knees bent slightly to help you reach the load. Never bend your lower back. The basic point of twisting and bending is located in hip joints.
- Try to bend your hip joints, not your low back.
- Keep your chest as high as you can.
- Try to come as close to the load as you can or move the load close to yourself, if this is possible.
- Bend your knees slightly.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LOAD-LIFTING FROM HARD-TO-REACH PLACES
Sometimes a load doesn’t weigh very much, but its position makes lifting it hard. For example, this can happen when you are unloading items from the trunk of your car. The main problem is in reaching the load. Some rules will help make this task easier: If you move your buttocks a bit backwards, then movement in your knee and hip joints will help you keep your lumbar spine in a straight and balanced position: that is, bent a little bit to the inside.
LIFTING HEAVY LOADS ON THREE SUPPORTING POINTS
This method is very appropriate for especially heavy loads. To use it, you have to bend down on one knee in front of the load, and then place the load on your opposite thigh. Keep the load as close to your body as you can. Keep your chest vertical, and higher than your thighs. Just like in every other case, your buttocks must be directed backwards. This helps keep your lower back bent slightly to the inside. If it is necessary to move the load a long distance, carry it on your shoulder. This gives you one free hand to open any doors and help yourself move.
LOAD-LIFTING WITH DEEP SQUATTING
You can lift loads of moderate weight using this method, but it requires you to be in good physical condition, and you must be able to fully bend your hip and knee joints. If your joints are not fully mobile, do not use this method.
Place your feet a shoulder’s width apart and step forward with one of your feet. This will give you added stability. Get as close to the load as you can, and then squat fully down. During this movement, keep your chest in a vertical position. Use all the strength in your thighs, but do not overload your lower back. If you make the lift wrong, your buttocks will move before your head and your chest, transferring the weight to your lower back. Avoid doing this.
LOAD-LIFTING ON ONE LEG
You can lift a load with one leg using this method, but it requires a stable support. Remember that if your position is wrong, then both feet are on the ground and your back is curved back and upwards. If the position is correct, then the curve of your lower back is maintained to the inside by one leg that is raised up. Maintain your balance with a stable support.