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Lifting and bending the right way

Nonspecific back pain - lifting; Backache - lifting; Sciatica - lifting; Lumbar pain - lifting; Chronic back pain - lifting; Herniated disk - lifting; Slipped disk - lifting

 

Many people injure their backs when they lift objects. When you reach your 30's, you are more likely to hurt your back when you bend to lift something up or put it down.

This may be because you have injured the muscles, ligaments, or disks in your spine in the past. Also, as we get older our muscles and ligaments become less flexible. And, the disks that act as cushions between the bones of our spine become more brittle as we age. All of these things make us more prone to having a back injury.

How you can Prevent Injury

 

Know how much you can safely lift. Think about how much you have lifted in the past and how easy or hard that was. If an object seems too heavy or awkward, get help with it.

If your work requires you to do lifting that may not be safe for your back, talk to your supervisor. Try to determine the most weight you should have to lift. You may need to meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn how to safely lift this amount of weight.

To help prevent back pain and injury when you bend and lift:

  • Spread your feet apart to give your body a wide base of support
  • Stand as close as possible to the object you are lifting
  • Bend at your knees, not at your waist or back
  • Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the object up or lower it down
  • Hold the object as close to your body as you can
  • Slowly lift, using your muscles in your hips and knees
  • As you stand up with the object, DO NOT bend forward
  • DO NOT twist your back while you bend to reach the object, lift the object, or carry the object
  • Squat as you set the object down, using the muscles in your knees and hips. Keep your back straight when you squat down.

 

 

References

Bahr R, Shimer A, Onate J, Kaminski TW. Injury prevention. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 41.

Lemmon R, Leonard J. Neck and back pain. In: Rakel RE, Rakel D, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 31.

 
  • Backaches

    Backaches - illustration

    Although stress can cause backaches it is wise to watch out for other signs that may indicate a more serious condition. Pain which radiates to the buttocks, arms or legs, and weakness or numbness in the arms and legs should not be ignored.

    Backaches

    illustration

  • Herniated lumbar disk

    Herniated lumbar disk - illustration

    Herniated lumbar disk is a condition in which part or all of the soft, gelatinous central portion of an intervertebral disk (the nucleus pulposus) is forced through a weakened part of the disk, resulting in back pain and nerve root irritation.

    Herniated lumbar disk

    illustration

    • Backaches

      Backaches - illustration

      Although stress can cause backaches it is wise to watch out for other signs that may indicate a more serious condition. Pain which radiates to the buttocks, arms or legs, and weakness or numbness in the arms and legs should not be ignored.

      Backaches

      illustration

    • Herniated lumbar disk

      Herniated lumbar disk - illustration

      Herniated lumbar disk is a condition in which part or all of the soft, gelatinous central portion of an intervertebral disk (the nucleus pulposus) is forced through a weakened part of the disk, resulting in back pain and nerve root irritation.

      Herniated lumbar disk

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Talking to your MD

     

      Self Care

       

      Tests for Lifting and bending the right way

       

         

        Review Date: 7/13/2015

        Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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