Does your job entail lifting heavy items? When you lift boxes or other items day in and day out, you are at an increased risk for back pain and injuries. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of such ailments.
1. Lift with your knees.
Chances are, your employer has told you — and there may even be signs posted throughout your workplace to remind you — to lift with your knees or legs. This is to take the strain off your back. If you sometimes forget to lift with your legs or are not sure what the difference is, here are a few tips.
- Do not bend forward when lifting something. Keep your upper body perpendicular to the ground.
- Think about pushing your shoulders back and keeping your elbows in, to your sides. This deters you from using your back.
- Never turn your body or waist while lifting.
- Start your lift with bent knees; straighten them while you lift.
2. Keep your abs strong.
Your abdominal muscles work to support your back as you lift. If you have weak abs, you are at an increased risk for a back injury. Two or three times per week, take 10 or 15 minutes to complete an ab workout. This does not need to be anything too intense. Some 45-second planks, a few sit-ups and maybe a burpy or two should keep your core strong.
3. Visit the Chiropractor
Many people avoid visiting the chiropractor until they are actually suffering from back pain. However, chiropractic care is better treated as preventative maintenance. If you visit early and often, a chiropractor will adjust your spine in a way that takes pressure off your muscles and eases any tension that could lead to a strained muscle as you lift. They'll also be able to tell you whether or not you are lifting properly, based on the position of your spine when you visit. If it appears that you are not lifting properly, then you know to work on your technique before you become injured.
4. Use Straps and Dollies When Needed
When you come across a really heavy item, don't try to muscle it out. You don't need to prove your strength. Use lifting straps and dollies to move the heavy loads. This is not cheating — it's being smart to protect your back.
If you follow the tips above, you'll reduce your risk of a back injury in a job that requires lifting.