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Managing Your Back Pain

Low back pain causes more lost time in our society's workforce than any other condition. Since prevention is the often times the best medicine, here are some tips for proper lifting.

  • Make sure that you plan how you are going to lift your object, where its final destination is and make sure that all obstacles are out of your way.
  • Assess how heavy the item is that you are going to lift. If the object is a box or other material management items, test it out by giving it a small push.
  • If it is heavier than you think you can handle, ALWAYS ask for help.
  • Get as close as you can to the object and make sure you have a firm footing. Keep your stance wide so that you can straddle the object and grab it with both hands.
  • Bend at your knees and hips, instead of at the waist, to get your chest closer to the object. Your thigh should wind up being parallel or close to parallel to the floor and your backside should be sticking out behind you.
  • As you lift, keep your head up, tighten your stomach muscles without holding your breath and make sure that you maintain the natural inward curve of your low back. This keeps the pressure equal throughout the spine. Use your leg muscles, which are more powerful, to do the lifting. The purpose of our back muscles is to work with our abdominals to stabilize the spine and maintain proper posture during lifting.
  • Raise the object up to waist level and keep it close to your body. This minimizes the effort required and minimizes the stress to your spine.
  • Never twist your back while lifting. If you need to turn to bring your object to its final destination, pivot your feet and turn your body as a unit instead.
  • Make sure that you lift the object smoothly and avoid quick, jerking movements.
  • Push, roll or slide an object whenever possible, rather than lifting it or carrying it.
  • If you should have an acute or new episode of low back pain, avoid lifting all together. Many times people have a chronic episode of low back pain that resolves on its own. Often, these episodes escalate in severity each time they have one until finally the individual is forced to seek medical care. Even if you have a minor episode, it is wise to talk to your physician and perhaps be referred to physical therapy. In therapy, we can teach you proper posture and exercises so that you become empowered to maintain the health of your spine and prevent recurrence.

"PT doesn't stand for physical training. It's not pain and torture either, and it certainly isn't power technology. PT is people touching, people teaching, people talking. It's patient and therapist. It's positive thinking and pure teamwork" -Author unknown

Last Updated: 7/20/2009