The Joint Ventures' Blog

Happy Holidays! Lift with your knees NOT your back!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It’s getting closer to Christmas time (I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but have you seen your local department stores?!).  People are already planning how their decorations are going to be and how wonderland will come alive.  Let's keep safe this holiday season and make sure that we are lifting appropriately, so that we can enjoy the holidays without being in pain!  Here are some steps to follow in positioning yourself for safety.

1. Plan your item move.  The mechanics of lifting an item from the floor is going to be different from lifting an item high on a shelf in the closet or attic.

2. Proper lifting involves bending through the knees, keeping your back in a neutral position, as if you were sitting back into a chair.

3. Items should be held close to the body, as holding an item away from the body increases the load through the spine.  For example, a 10 pound box held at arm’s length can be hundreds of pounds of pressure through the spine, but when it’s held close to the body, it measure at < 100 pounds of pressure.

4. The legs should be shoulder width apart or in a staggered position to provide increased stability when lifting items that are 1 pound to 100 pounds, keeping the spine in a safe position.

5. The cervical spine should be in a neutral position, as to not increase strain in the cervical joints or muscles.

6. Never EVER twist and bend at the same time while holding weight in your hands.  This movement increases stress through the lumbar discs and muscles.

 

Common back injuries that can occur when lifting incorrectly are lumbar strains, sprains and herniated discs.

> A lumbar strain occurs when muscles or soft tissue becomes over stressed, causing injuries from microtears to complete tears of the soft tissue.

> A lumbar sprain occurs when the ligaments holding the bone to bone become disrupted, possibly even tearing from their insertion points.

> A herniated disc occurs when the inside of the disc (nucleus pulposus) is pushed into the outer rings of the disc (annulus fibrosis), causing compression against the nerves or spinal cord.

Physical therapy can help if you injure your spine before, during or after the holiday season.  Treatments that will occur during your treatment session, as deemed appropriate, might include soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, core stabilization exercises, flexibility exercises and last but certainly not least, body mechanics training for safe lifting and transfers.

If you have any other questions about proper lifting technique or back injuries, please contact me at LeeAnn.Yanni@JointVenturesPT.com.

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