Prevent Back Injuries
Back injuries are common problems at work, home, and play. When lifting heavy objects two things can lead to injury: overestimating your own strength and underestimating the importance of using proper lifting techniques. Below are tips to lift safely and avoid back injuries.
1) THINK BEFORE YOU LIFT
Plan the lift and where you are going to place it, ensure your path is clear. Use appropriate handling aids where possible. Also, consider if you need help or if you can safely lift yourself.
2) ADOPT A STABLE POSITION
Use your feet as a stable base that will hold your entire body in position during the process. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with one of your feet slightly forward to maintain balance.
3) KEEP YOUR CHEST FORWARD/LOOK AHEAD
Ensure that your spine is aligned by keeping your chest forward and your abdominal muscles engaged. Your shoulders should be back and your face straight ahead. Keep your upper back as straight as possible.
4) ENSURE A GOOD HOLD ON THE LOAD
Where possible, hug the load to the body. This should help you make a stronger and more solid lift than gripping the load tightly with the hands only.
5) LIFT WITH THE LEGS
Bend your knees, not your back, and squat down to grab the object you will be lifting. Use your leg muscles to lift the object up off of the ground.
6) DON'T TWIST WHEN YOU LIFT
Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways, especially while the back is bent. Turning by moving your feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
7) MOVE SMOOTHLY
It's best to use slow and smooth movements to lift. Once you have your load, carry it straight on, instead of to one side. Quick, jerky, or twisted movements can pull your muscles.
8) KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Don't lift or handle more than you can easily manage. There's a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If you're in doubt, get help.
9) PUSH OBJECTS RATHER THAN PULL
It's safer for your back to push heavy items forward than pull them towards you. This way you can use your leg strength to help move objects forward.
10) WARM UP
In addition to proper technique, you should warm up before lifting. Daily stretches and exercise can strengthen your back muscles. This prepares you in advance for lifting objects.