Although we’d love if it were the case, there’s no way to live your daily life while avoiding any potential strain on your back. Be it at work, at home, or anywhere in between, sometimes you have to lift heavy objects. And yes, your back plays a large role in stabilizing your body when doing so. But by understanding how your body’s positioning affects your biomechanics when lifting, you can reduce your risk of a back strain or a more serious injury.
Of course, before attempting to lift any object, you should first make sure you’re capable of lifting it. Although you may be able to bench press 130 pounds, lifting a box that weighs 130 pounds off the ground isn’t the same thing. Plus, your chances of injury dramatically increase for every pound over your limit that you attempt to lift. So before lifting, always either know the exact weight of the object, or “test” its load by pushing it with your foot–if you can barely move it, don’t attempt to lift it! However, if it seems manageable, follow the pointers below for a more comfortable effort:
Clear a Path, Have a Game Plan:
Avoid awkward movements and unexpected obstacles by clearing a path for yourself – so if you’re moving the object from point A to point B, make sure there’s nothing standing along your route. And if you have somebody helping you, make sure you’re both on the same page before starting.
Do a Dry Run:
Before attempting to lift the object, plan and practice the lifting motion. Focus on keeping your spine straight, raising and lowering to the ground by bending your knees.
Keep it Close:
Hold the object close to your body, gripping it firmly (as opposed to holding it at the end of your reach). This will help prevent a back strain and will make you a stronger, more stable lifter.
Ace the Base:
Provide yourself with a solid base and center of gravity by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart and taking short steps–if you keep your feet too close together, you’ll be too unstable. But if they’re too far apart, you’re range of motion will suffer.
Lift with the Legs:
Because your legs are several times stronger than your back muscles, remember to raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees, just as you did during your dry run. If you have difficulty keeping your back straight while lifting the object off the ground, try looking upwards, focusing your eyes on the ceiling–but always keep your eyes forward while moving with the object.
If you still have difficulty keeping your back straight while lifting objects, our posture-correcting shirt, ActivAided can help stabilize your lower back while allowing you to get on with your daily life!
And as always, if you feel like you’ve sustained a serious injury while lifting, consult a medical professional as soon as possible!