Lifting injuries are one of the most common causes of back pain. Some are relatively minor muscle pulls or strains which last a few days and improve with a hot bath and stretches. Others are more complex involving discs or facet joints and may last weeks involving time off work and preventing you from doing simple daily activities such as sitting or bending.
When you lift your back is placed under stress. Twisting or jolting whilst lifting or carrying can place further stress on many structures in your spine. These may include muscles, ligaments, facet joints and discs.
Incorrectly lifting may cause strain or episodes of locking in the facet joints which can cause severe pain and reduced range of movement. The discs which sit between each vertebrae are made of a jelly like material called a nucleus pulposus, these act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. Repetitive strain or incorrect lifting may cause stress on the disc weakening the outer fibres called the annulus fibrosus and cause the disc to tear or bulge.
When lifting consider these factors
- The weight of the object you are going to lift
- The angle or position at which you lift - are you leaning forward to reach or twisted in an awkward angle?
- How fast you lift the object
- The length you need to hold the object for.
Here are some top tips for lifting:
- Place your feet shoulder width apart
- Bend from your hips and knees keeping the spine straight
- Get a good grip of the object you lift and hold it close to your body
- Never twist and bend at the same time
- If lifting loads like shopping bags, don't carry all in one go take separate journeys to lift them all into the house.
Prevent injury and pain by learning to lift correctly using the techniques at home and in the workplace.