Every day I see patients at my office who complain of lower back pain. When I ask them “when did the symptoms start?”, it is very common to hear the patient respond “I was bending over trying to pick up (insert any household item) and I felt my back give way”. As the patient begins to explain further into their bending over and picking up process there are usually several key mistakes they made that make their back more vulnerable to being injured or “giving way”.
The number one mistake people make when lifting, it actually involves two parts, is they will have some sort of bending motion at the waist along with reaching out from their body, to the left or right, to grab an object they are then trying to lift and bring closer to their body. Ok, so it was three parts. Imagine you are sitting in a chair and there is a box that is a couple feet in front of you and to your right. To grab this box without getting out of the chair you would bend forward at the waist and twist your upper body to the right to be able to reach the box. The problem is while bending at the waist and twisting, or rotating your upper body, you are stretching your back muscles close to their maximum amount, which makes them vulnerable to injury, especially if the box ends up being heavier than you were anticipating and you have to use those muscles more. Now you are really asking for trouble.
So how should you pick up that box? First, move closer to the box and get positioned so the box is in front of you and close enough you don’t have to reach out from you body to grab it after you have bent your knees to lower yourself down to the object. That’s correct. I know you have heard this many times but you must bend at the knees, NOT AT THE WAIST!!!! Again the reason is when you bend at the waist you lengthen the back muscles and then are using them to lift the object up while they are at their weakest state, which is a recipe for trouble. Bend those knees while keeping the back up and straight as possible and let your legs do the lifting with the object close to your body.
Hopefully you will implement this technique and save yourself from an episode of lower back pain. If you don’t follow this advice and injure yourself, or if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident or while trying to enjoy a fun day on the golf course, Your Pensacola Chiropractor will be here to help!
Dr. Blake Gilmore
Your Pensacola Chiropractor
Image sourced from WebMD.com