October is here and with it comes everything fall. One of the highlights of the month is the annual family trip to go PUMPKIN PICKING!! Pumpkins are hard to pick up because they are heavier than they look, can vary greatly in their weight differences between two comparably sized pumpkins, are rounded without any easy hand holds to lift/carry, and have a handle that easily breaks under strain. Surprisingly enough a pumpkin trip can end up with a lot of pain if you don’t pick that pumpkin up properly. The biggest culprit, is our back.
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 pumpkins. Make sure you have a clear path. This will help you avoid any awkward or sudden movements that can strain your muscles
- Test the pumpkin’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 pumpkin you intend to lift and avoid twisting. Don’t lean over the pumpkin to lift it. Instead, stand close to the it, with your feet on either side of the pumpkin if possible, if not as close to the sides as possible. bend your legs keep your back straight, and keep the pumpkin 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 pumpkin’s weight equally on both sides of your body. Keep your arms close to your sides and avoid reaching out with the it in your arms
- If a back injury does occur, seek help from a physical therapist first. Recent research has effectively shown that by seeing a PT prior to a Doctor reduces out of pocket expense as a whole, improves the speed in which you receive treatment, reduces your possibility of being prescribed an opioid by 87%, reduces your need for imaging by 28%, and reduces your need for further emergency room visits by 15%!5.
Hopefully, by using proper lifting techniques when getting your pumpkin you will be able to enjoy a LBP free fall, but if something does go 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.
- Study: Seeing a PT first for LBP lowers overall costs, reduces chances of later opioid prescription. PT in Motion, American Physical Therapy Association, May 24, 2018, https://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/News/2018/05/24/PTFirstForLBP/