Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tips to lift objects without pain

How to avoid injury while lifting ...

"There are many causes of low back pain; however, one of the most common causes of back pain is lifting objects incorrectly, no matter how heavy the object really is. Many people think it is the weight of the objects we lift that can cause injury to our backs; however, it is actually the way in which we lift that can cause injury to our backs, particularly the lower back (known as the lumbar spine). Bending over to pick up a feather can cause just as much injury as picking up a 70 kilogram cement block, if the action of lifting is performed incorrectly!

Lifting objects (no matter how heavy the load) is strenuous work on the body, and requires proper training and technique in order to perform it safely. By lifting with your large, strong muscles of the legs instead of the small muscles of the back, you can prevent back injuries and reduce low back pain, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Below are basic guidelines one can use to lift objects safely, and this should be applied to even the smallest of objects. Most importantly, for those with small children, who love to be held, these techniques become particularly useful. Parents in this group who suffer from frequent back pain should know that it is most likely due to the way you are bending over to pick up your little ones. Anyone can use the following guidelines to maintain a healthy and pain-free back; most importantly, use common sense, and take your time when lifting heavy loads.

Phase 1: Assessing the task at hand
A quick scan of the object and the surrounding area can save you days of agonizing back pain! The University Of California Los Angeles Department of Ergonomics suggests before lifting or carrying any object, you should ask yourself as series of questions: Can you lift this load safely alone, or will you need help? Will you have to carry the object for a long distance? Is the area clear of other objects and/or clutter, including electrical cords, wet areas, stairs, curbs, or uneven walkways? Will you need to pass through doorways, and will the doors actually be open? Will the object block your view once you lift it? Is the shape of the object awkward and uneven in weight? Can you separate the load to make it easier to manage? These simple questions can prevent injury before the lift even occurs.

Phase 2: How heavy is the load?
Before lifting any object, check the weight so you that you can prepare to lift it safely, and avoid injury. The US National Safety Council suggests using the “Tilt Test” to estimate an object’s weight. In order to use the “Tilt Test”, grasp on of the object’s edges, and slowly try to lift it up. If it is difficult to move by simply lifting a corner, the object is too heavy to lift alone. Stop, and get someone to help or use a lifting aid, such as a mechanical fork lift or dolly (a lift with wheels).

Phase 3: The actual lift
The most important rule of lifting: Bend from the knees not your waist! Bending from the waist (hips) when lifting any object, puts you at the highest risk of injury to the low back; this position already places tremendous amounts of pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine. The discs are the small “jelly doughnut” structures in-between the bones of our back, that protect the spine and act as shock absorbers; however, they can only take so much pressure before they must give way, and cause injury. Not only are you damaging the discs in this position, you are relying on the small muscles of your back to help you lift the load. The small muscles of your back are in no way as strong the muscles of your legs, so using these small muscles in a way they are not used to can cause injury."    (Continued via Arab Times)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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