Protecting Your Back: Proper Lifting Techniques

Improper lifting is one of the most frequent causes of spinal problems.  A sudden jerk, twisting, or simply bad posture prior to a lift can cause major spinal trauma and excruciating pain.
Always observe the first rule of lifting: lift with your legs and not your back.  Never begin a lift with your back bent.  Instead, keep your back straight and bend at your hips or knees, depending on where the item you’re lifting is located.  This position will allow your arms and shoulders to take the load off your back, sparing your fragile spinal vertebrae from potential trauma.


Poor lifting can lead to three types of back injuries:

  • Injury to the Vertebral Discs 

A bad lift can cause vertebrae to shift out of alignment.  When this happens, the small discs that function as shock absorbers between the vertebrae can be damaged or shifted out of alignment themselves.  When discs are distorted or misaligned, they can come in contact with root nerves or the spinal cord, causing tremendous pain.  Don’t risk this sort of pain.  Think before you lift.


  • Injury to the Joints

There are numerous joints that connect bony structures within your spine.  Improper lifting can strain these joints and their surrounding tissue.  The result can be excessive pain and/or an immobilization of some of these joints.


  • Injury to the muscles

As with any group of muscles, back muscles can be strained or torn.  When that happens, pain follows.  Unlike many other muscle groups, however, an injured back muscle can often lead to the immobilization of other body parts, such as hips, shoulders, neck and knees.


You can avoid these injuries by remembering to lift with your legs and not your back.  Follow these tips:


  • Don’t lift an object unless you know where you’re moving it to.  This will reduce the time you’re holding the object and reduce object shifting, as well.
  • Stand close to the object and face it directly to avoid twisting.  Your feet should be flat on the floor and firmly under your torso.  
  • Do not let your elbows go straight while lifting.  This prevents the weight of the object from being transferred from your arms and shoulders to your back.
  • Use your leg muscles and not your back muscles to lift.
  • Keep the object as close to your body as possible.  This also keeps as much of the burden of the weight of the object on your arms instead of your back.
  • Do not twist.  When turning, pivot with your feet, keeping your feet, torso and shoulder all facing the same direction.  When you change direction, lead with your hips and have your shoulders follow.
  • Keep your chest and shoulders forward to keep the small of your back from taking on the burden of the weight of the object.
  • Don’t be macho.  If your object is obviously too heavy to lift easily, get help from friends or go get a dolly.  Many a strong person has been brought to their knees in pain for weeks and months because they underestimated the weight of an object or overestimated their ability to lift it.  An easy test is to push the object with your foot.  If it’s difficult to move it with your foot, then it’s time to get reinforcements.

To learn more about Chiropractic and proper lifting techniques, contact South Tampa Chiropractic Clinic for a free consultation. (813) 350-0109  


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