Many Americans perform physical labor at work and don’t use proper lifting techniques—which can often end in injury. Learn why lifting properly is critical to avoid injury and some simple ergonomic lifting tips to start using right away. By utilizing these simple tips and choosing chiropractic care, you can likely increase your production and comfort at work and more importantly, your quality of life.
The Importance of Your Spine and Lifting Properly
Don’t underestimate the power of a healthy spine! Your spine houses and protects your spinal cord which acts as a highway for the brain and nerves to all parts of your body—and a healthy spine is imperative for maintaining health and wellness.
A spine is made up of vertebrae and soft cushion-like tissue, discs—which help to absorb shock and weight. Your lower back holds the majority of your weight and any injury or stress here can cause pain or discomfort as you move, bend or stand. When you lift, you are placing stress on your back and spine and the added weight from the item you are picking up puts additional pressure on your lower back.
Back injury doesn’t have to result from a single instance of improper lifting—if you’re not taking the steps to protect yourself, over time stress and micro traumas can lead to injury. The United States Department of Labor lists back injuries as the “nation’s #1 workplace safety problem” and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than one million people suffer back injuries at work each year.
Simple Ergonomic Lifting Tips for Work
Try these simple lifting tips while you are working to avoid injury:
- Before lifting, always stretch to warm up muscles and prevent injuries; here are a few simple stretches:
- Reach above your head and stretch for a count of ten
- Rotate your wrists for a count of ten
- Stretch your neck from side to side, holding for a count of ten
- Test heavy items before lifting them by pushing lightly to get an idea of an item’s weight
- If an item is too heavy, ask for assistance or find a mechanized way to move it
- Check that the item’s weight is evenly distributed and parts will not move while you’re moving it
- If a position feels unnatural, re-adjust and find a better position that feels comfortable and natural
- Always lift using both hands
- Bend at your knees, lift from your legs and keep the object close to your body
- Keep your back straight when lifting, never arch your back or reach forward for an item
- Avoid twisting motions and whenever possible, lift in two-person teams
- Lift and move items at a slow and steady pace
- During your workday, take regular breaks from heavy lifting
- Most important of all tips is to know your limit, don’t ignore your body
If you are experiencing pain during your work days or while doing frequent tasks, it’s critical you visit a chiropractor to find out how your pain and symptoms can be treated. This is an extremely important topic—with so much to cover, so please check back for more Be Well posts on this topic!