As Your Pensacola Chiropractor, I am often asked by our patients how to lift heavy objects properly both at work and in your everyday lives. Recently I was questioned about how to properly load and unload cases of bottled water from the local supermarket. This is an interesting question because when purchasing a case of bottled water, there is actually a multi-step process of lifting the case to transport it from the store to your home. Once the decision has been made to purchase the case of water, the case has to transition from the store shelves, to your cart, from the cart to the checkout counter, from checkout counter to the car, then finally from the car to the house or garage. That’s potentially four times you must lift the heavy case; four opportunities to hurt your back. Let’s review each transition to determine which lifts are necessary and which are not, as well as the proper lifting techniques to use when lifting the case to reduce risk of harm to your back.
Once you’ve decided which case of water to purchase, the first challenge is to get the heavy case into the cart. More specifically, as a patient questioned, “should I put the case of water inside the shopping cart or slide it underneath onto the bottom rack of the cart?” As the patient pointed out, the dilemma is if they chose to put the case on the bottom rack of the cart, bending that low with the weight of the case could hurt their back. On the flip side, if they chose to put the case inside the shopping cart, they would be lifting the weight of the case up and over the side of the cart causing him to reach a fair distance from his body also potentially hurting their back. So what is the best solution?
In a previous article written by Your Pensacola Chiropractor, click here to learn how to lift without causing injury to your back, I review the proper techniques necessary for lifting heavy objects safely. For proper back care when lifting heavy objects, remember two key points:
- 1) Hold the heavy object close to your body
- 2) Bend with your knees, not your back.
Keeping these techniques in mind, it would be nearly impossible to keep the case of bottled water close to your body when attempting to put them into the cart. The same would be true when attempting to retrieve the case from the cart to load onto the cashier’s counter and/or the car. For this reason, I do not suggest placing the case of water into the shopping cart.
The best solution to this problem is to first move the shopping cart as close as possible to the case of bottled water you wish to purchase. Next, you should grab the case of water with both hands/arms keeping it as close to your body as possible. With the case securely in hand, bend down using your knees (DO NOT BEND USING YOUR BACK) and place the case of water onto the bottom rack of the shopping cart. When you get to the checkout counter, do not remove the case from the cart, but instead have the cashier scan the items while it remains beneath the cart. Many times the cashier will offer to do this on their own, as I assume this is a part of training given by grocery stores to their employees. Once payment is made, use the shopping cart to transport all your purchased items to your vehicle. When it is time to unload the case from the bottom of the cart, again, bend at your knees, grab the case with both hands/arms and lift the case using the strength of your legs. Take care to keep the case of water close to your body as you come back up then place it inside your vehicle.
While it is true that getting the case of water bottles onto the bottom rack of the grocery cart could post a certain amount of risk to one’s back, if done in the proper manner as described above, it presents less risk to your back than trying to place the case directly inside the cart and then attempting to remove it from inside the cart. If you are unable to bend at your knees and hold the case close to your body, I would recommend asking for assistance from a store employee as OSHA makes it a requirement that all employees are properly trained for such duties as can be seen on their website where they demonstrate how to lift without hurting the back.
I hope this article helps you the next time you are about to pick up a case of bottled water or any other heavy container at the supermarket. Remember to lift these items properly, preventing injury to your back. In the event that you do hurt your neck or back, even if it seems minor, please seek evaluation from a medical professional.
If you are in the Pensacola, Florida area, Your Pensacola Chiropractor, Gilmore Chiropractic, is prepared to help you overcome injuries to your neck and back.