Do you have a physically demanding job? Do you often lift things and end up hurting afterwards? Are you a weekend warrior who likes to hit the gym but is unsure of technique? These concerns can be addressed by discussing lifting techniques. For most people, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to lift. It is too often that I see people lifting with a rounded back. I hear “lift with your legs” often enough, but it does not address the position of the back. To protect the back fully, a couple things must be done:
- Keep your spine in neutral as you lift. Never let the low back round outward (i.e. don’t “tuck your tail”). This places tremendous pressure on a small area of the intervertebral discs, increasing your risk for herniation or bulge.
- Bend or hinge at the hips. This will engage the large and strong buttock muscles while allowing you to maintain neutral spine.
- Keep your center of gravity between midfoot and heel. This will force your knees backward, reducing the amount of force imparted upon them.
- Keep each knee centered over the midline of each foot. Do not let your knees go to the inside of your feet. This is called valgus collapse, and it is a significant biomechanical deficit, a sign of weakness, and a predictor of injury.
- Never rotate at the spine when it is under load. This greatly reduces the stability of the spine and the disc and reduces the effectiveness of the back muscle stabilizers and movers. Always pivot your body by moving your feet.
Practice these principles before performing any kind of lifting and make sure that you continue to utilize them while lifting. Making these rules habit will greatly reduce your risk for injury and keep you healthy for longer!