By Riva Preil
Tis the season to be reviewing proper body mechanics, especially considering the amount of heavy lifting and transporting (ex. suitcases, gifts, decorations). Protecting your back is one of the best presents you can give yourself this holiday season, and the benefits will far outweigh that of any iPad. That being said, please pay close to attention to the following tips you can easily incorporate into your routine to promote optimal health and safety:
- SQUAT TO LIFT HEAVY OBJECTS- while lifting an object, step close to the object, spread your feet shoulder-width apart, and bend from the hips, knees, and ankles. Head and shoulders should remain upright, and tighten your abdominal muscles (your core) throughout the lift. Avoid bending from the back, and instead use your large, strong lower extremity muscles.
- USE GOLFER’S LIFT TECHNIQUE TO LIFT LIGHT OBJECTS- Choose one leg, and shift your body weight onto that leg. Put your opposite arm on a supportive surface (ex. countertop, rail, table etc.) and bend forward. Allow the supporting knee to bend slightly and allow the unweighted leg to lift off the ground in line with your torso.
- PUSH RATHER THAN PULL- When moving heavy objects (ex. table, bed), pushing the item from behind while standing erect allows you to use your body weight during the move, which decreases the burden from your back.
- AVOID TWISTING- Trunk rotation while carrying or moving a heavy object puts severe stress on the lumbar vertebrae and the intervertebral discs. It is better to pivot and move from your feet while engaging in loaded twisting movements (ex. carrying luggage, vacuuming, etc.). As with all back protection strategies, remain as close to the item as possible throughout activity.
- SINK SAFETY- Most sinks are situated lower than our backs would like. Pay attention next time your brush your teeth- do you find yourself bending forward? Does this make your back feel strained? If so, try this simple trick- place one foot atop a stool while brushing your teeth or washing your face, and see how much better your back feels afterwards.
- LOGROLL YOUR WAY OUT OF BED- The worst thing is starting your day off on a bad foot…or a bad back for that matter! Getting out of bed in the morning could be a much more pleasant experience by avoiding awkward twists and bends as you arise. Instead, try using the logroll technique- roll onto your side, scoot close to the edge of the bed, and bend your hips and knees. Then, push up through your upper body as you drop your legs off the bed. This maneuver allows you to move your back as one unit and decreases pressure on the spine.
Good luck with these techniques! I hope they help you feel great during 2013 and beyond. Happy New Year!