Back pain is common, especially after doing a once-in-awhile activities like cleaning out the attic. How can you prevent low back pain when lifting heavy items or moving boxes? Deb Walko, AT, EMT-B, CSCS, Lake Health Sports Medicine senior athletic trainer and injured-worker rehabilitation expert, offers a few tips:
Proper lifting technique
There are two main concepts that you need to focus on to prevent low back pain when lifting and bending. The first is to strengthen your core muscles and the second is to always use proper technique. Proper technique can be broken down into eight easy steps:
- Get close to the item you are lifting.
- Position your feet before you start. They should be about shoulder-width apart and slightly staggered.
- Bend your knees. Lower your body by sitting back, not bending forward. The best cure for this is to drop your bottom toward your heels. This helps maintain the natural curve of the spine.
- Test the weight of the object you are lifting. This can be done by sliding or tilting the object a bit. Be realistic about what you can lift alone and when you should have help - consider the weight of the object and also if the object is an awkward shape.
- Get a firm grasp on opposite corners. Make sure the box will not bend or break as you lift it.
- Lift with a smooth, steady motion. Keep the object close to your body and within the “power zone” (mid-thigh to mid-chest) as you move it to it's final destination. Remember to keep your back straight and your eyes forward throughout the lift, and do not hold your breath.
- Pivot to turn; do not twist.
- If you’re putting items on high shelves, use a step stool or small step ladder so that you aren’t reaching to the end of your range of motion. Try to avoid lifting items up over your shoulder.
Proper lifting mechanics will help prevent discomfort and injuries.
Prompt care for orthopedic injuries
If you had a sports- or work-related injury in the past 4 weeks, you can use our online check-in service to see one of our athletic trainers at Lake Health's Fast Track Sports Injury Clinic.
This clinic is held on Monday – Friday from 7 am - 10:30 am at the Brunner Sanden Deitrick Wellness Campus in Mentor. An athletic trainer will perform an evaluation and administer treatment in accordance with state laws and physician guidance. The athletic trainer discusses each patient with a physician. Through this consultation, treatment decisions are made and followed. These treatment decisions may include further evaluation by the physician, x-rays, rehabilitation, applying bracing, scheduling further testing and more.
For more information, please call 440-833-2010.