Whether it's at work or at home, lifting is a part of your everyday life. But if you're not careful, you could pick up an aching back.
Lifting the right way goes beyond boxes, down to purses and pens. Dr. Dale Garrett of Stormont-Vail WorkCare says it doesn't depend on the weight of what you're lifting, but on how you move.
The most common mistake we make is simply bending down. Dr. Garrett says bending over at the waist puts the body at a biomechanical disadvantage where you're more likely to injure your back, including ligaments, discs and muscles. He says lifting correctly means using your legs.
Therapist Tracy McGrath explains that you need to bend your knees and squat down while keeping your abdominals tigh, then lift.
McGrath says you also take stress off your back by keeping the object you're lifting near your body and walking it in to the shelf or counter where you're placing it, rather than reaching out with it.
Finally, keep your body square. McGrath says once you lift, turn your feet and continue with the object. She says rotation is the worst thing for your back.
The same rules for lifting objects up apply to setting objects down. If you have knee problems, McGrath suggests holding on to something for balance and lift your back leg up as you bend, keeping your back flat.
The trick is to lift properly every time, no matter what it is you're picking up. Dr. Garrett says, even with mundane tasks like getting dressed or doing laundry, you need to think about how you're moving every single time, because all it takes is one wrong move to set you back.
Dr. Garrett says maintaining strength, flexibility and proper weight also takes stress off your back.