June brings the end of a school year (kids scream Yeah!! while their parents grumble No!), the start of summer fun (which means summer vacations!), and if you have been looking to purchase a new home it often is the time of year when a lot of people get to move from one home into their next. During this exciting time there will undoubtedly be a fair amount of lifting going on; from furniture, or boxes large and small in the moving process to luggage and children on vacation trips. But nothing stops a move or a vacation short like low back pain!
Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of activity limitation and missing work in the industrialized world,(1) In the US it is estimated that over 149 million work days are lost every year to LBP (2) and that costs the US between $100 to $200 billion a year in treatment and lost wages.(3) Furthermore, the majority of people (65%) injure their backs while at home.(4)
One of the more recognizable ways people can injure their backs is with Improper lifting technique. Learning the proper way to lift will help you minimize the risk of pain and injury and ease that transition to your new home or keep you on your feet in getting to that vacation spot so you can finally relax!
- Plan ahead before lifting heavy objects. Make sure you have a clear path. This will help you avoid any awkward or sudden movements that can strain your muscles
- Test an object’s weight before lifting by pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy, ask for help. Be honest with yourself…a couple minutes of patience can pay dividends later if your back does not limit you.
- Face the object you intend to lift and avoid twisting. Don’t lean over an object to lift it. Instead, stand close to the object, with your feet on either side of the object if possible, if not as close to the sides as possible. bend your legs keep your back straight, and keep the object as close to your body as you can.
- Lift with your legs, not with your back. Think of pushing your legs into the ground and not straightening your back.
- Keep feet shoulder-width apart and maintain your balance by distributing the object’s weight equally on both sides of your body. Keep your arms close to your sides and avoid reaching out with the object in your arms
- If a back injury does occur, seek help from a physical therapist. What starts as a minor back injury can progress to a chronic condition without early intervention.
Hopefully, by using proper lifting techniques over the course of the next few months you will be able to enjoy a LBP free summer and not have to be stuck inside, but if something goes wrong don’t hesitate to contact our offices in both Chester and Bridgewater!
- Andersson GBJ. The Epidemiology of Spinal Disorders. In Frymoyer JW (ed.) The Adult Spine: Principles and Practice. Philadelphia, Lippincott – Raven, 1997, pp. 93–141
- Guo HR, Tanaka S, Halperin WE, Cameron LL. Back pain prevalence in US industry and estimates of lost workdays. Am J Public Health , 1999, 89(7): 1029 – 1035.
- Katz JN. Lumbar disc disorders and low back pain: socioeconomic factors and consequences. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2006, 88(suppl 2):21-24.
- Wasterman B. et al. Low back pain in the United States: incidence and risk factors for presentation in the emergency setting. The Spine Journal, 2012, 12(1):63-70.