80% of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and often times it is brought upon by improper lifting of objects from the ground. Lifting places stress on the lumbar muscles, ligaments, and disks as well as the arms and legs. The potential for injury exists regardless of whether you are lifting something heavy or light if improper technique is used. The following tips will help to protect your low back.
- Lift with your legs: People tend to bend over at the waist with locked knees to pick things up off the ground. This puts maximal stress through all of the soft tissues of the lumbar spine and increases the risk for injury. To protect the low back, squat down with the legs to bring your hands closer to the ground.
- Keep your back flat: If your low back muscles are activated they will keep the lumbar from rounding forward thus protecting the ligaments and disks from injury. A good tip is to keep your chin up while lifting rather than looking at the floor.
- Tighten your stomach muscles: This will increase intrabdominal pressure which helps to protect the spine.
- Keep objects close to your abdomen: The closer you keep heavy objects to your center of gravity, the less stress you will place on your low back.
- Know your limitations: If you think something is too heavy to lift on your own, ask for assistance. Taking a little more time to ask for help is better than injuring the low back or other body parts.
By: Steve Bernstein PT, OMT