Safe Lifting Techniques to Reduce Injury
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 1 million workers injure their backs each year with over 75% resulting from lifting-related tasks. We spend more than $100 billion annually on medical bills, lost wages, and disability resulting from back injuries/illness. More importantly, these injuries cause unnecessary pain and lifestyle changes. Many of these injuries could have been avoided by utilizing proper lifting techniques. Below are 3 simple steps to help you lift properly and avoid injury, whether at work or at home.
1. Prepare to Lift
Assess the situation and how heavy or awkward the object is. Do you need another person to help?
Clear the path of any obstacles before lifting.
Get as close to the object as you can.
Keep your feet wide to improve your base of support.
Squat down with knees and hips bent to grasp an object.
Keep back straight and look straight ahead to reduce lower back strain.
Tighten your abs(core) prior to lifting by pulling your belly button towards your spine, creating a squeezing feeling in your abs. Maintain this throughout the lift.
While maintaining a straight back and tight abs, drive up with legs to a standing position.
Make sure that you straighten your hips and knees at the same pace. Straightening your knees first could lead to rounding of your lower back and increasing your risk of injury.
Maintain abdominal squeeze.
3. Moving and Finishing the Lift
Keep your shoulders back/chest out and maintain a slight inward arch at the lower back. Do not allow your back to round forward or arch too far back as both can lead to injury.
Avoid twisting, keep your hips and shoulders facing forward and pivot on your feet to move in another direction.
Maintain abdominal squeeze throughout the movement.
When you reach your destination, lower the object by reversing the lifting movement, making sure to maintain that straight spine position.
When lifting and carrying loads, be mindful of what your body is telling you. If you begin to feel fatigued or feel pain, set down the load and rest before resuming.
It is also often useful to utilize lifting aids when available, such as ramps, dollies, lifting straps, etc. These items are made to reduce stress and strain while still allowing you
to lift heavy or awkward items. Perhaps most importantly,
be aware of your limitations and ask for help when the load is too heavy for one person to manage. By following safe lifting techniques, you can help avoid suffering back injuries that can cause lifelong pain and problems.