With the recent nice change in weather here in Missoula, it is that time of year for “spring cleaning”, both indoors and out, as people start sprucing up their yards and gardens. Whether cleaning out closets and packing boxes to take to Good Will or raking and bagging dead leaves and grass to haul to compost, it is important to protect your back by using proper body mechanics when lifting in order to keep your back safe.
The spine is made up of three natural curves. When properly aligned, your body weight is evenly distributed resulting in less stress placed on joints, ligaments, and surrounding muscles. That is why it is important to maintain a “neutral” spine (avoiding extreme curvature) with lifting. In addition, you want to engage your deep abdominal muscles prior to lifting, as they act as stabilizers to help protect your spine.
In order to properly execute a lift, you should follow these helpful tips.
- Always plan prior to lifting by making sure you have a clear path and your load is secure so no shifting occurs.
- Get as close to the load as possible by squaring up to it, using a wide base of support.
- While maintaining a neutral spine and engaging your abdominals, squat down by bending at your hips and knees rather than your back.
- Firmly grasp the load (using handles or wearing gloves for a better grip) and slowly lift with your legs while keeping the load close to your body.
- Avoid twisting by always leading with your feet instead of your torso.
- When possible, push instead of pull objects to decrease stress to your back.
By following these tips as you dive into your “spring cleaning”, you will be less likely to injure yourself, allowing ample time to play after all your hard work!
For more information on the spine, check out our orthopedic library by clicking here.