Oftentimes in our day-to-day life, we’ll face the challenge of lifting something rather heavy, be it bags of groceries, boxes of miscellaneous items, work folders, etc. You must know the proper way to approach and handle the given object. A bad lifting technique is among the leading causes of severe injuries. Your health is of great importance, so we have prepared just for you these rules on lifting heavy objects before you get on with the actual work.
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Is it safe to keep your knees straight when lifting?
It’s certainly not safe to attempt reaching down to the heavy object with your knees straight before attempting to lift it. Once you push with your legs from a squatting position and the weight is lifted from the ground completely, your legs will get in a straight position. Don’t keep them too straight, as the whole weight will be transferred onto the knees. Instead, always keep your knees slightly bent, just as they are when you’re stepping with your leg when walking.
Why should you bend your knees when lifting?
When lifting a heavy object you have to squat first to grab it from the ground. You can’t actually squat properly without bending your knees.
Is it better to push or pull a heavy object?
Friction plays a great role when pushing an object. The friction is higher than when pulling the same object under the same conditions. That’s what makes pushing harder than pulling most of the time.
When pulling an object, though, the vertical force is against the weight of the body, which causes you to reduce the friction between the object and the surface it’s put on. With lower friction, you will need a bit less force to pull the object.
What causes most back injuries?
- Twisting your upper body while holding a heavier weight
- Using an improper technique for lifting, pushing or pulling a heavy object
Incorrect lifting posture. Back is not straight, knees are too bent or not bent at all etc.
- Continuously holding a heavy object in your hands without taking a rest
- Previous back injuries that have not fully healed
- Lifting a heavy object after taking being calm for too long. You need to warm a little first
- Lifting a heavier weight than the recommended minimum, depending on your gender, weight, height, age and other factors
What leads to an easier back injury:
Anyone can get a back injury when lifting a heavy object, but some people are more likely to get the negative impacts of this physical action. These are some of the most common reasons why you might be more vulnerable to back injuries:
For those who have not maintained regular exercise over age, having back pain is a commonly seen issue that starts to appear as a symptom, usually after getting 30 years old.
Arthritis is one of the most diseases that cause back pain. Scoliosis is also a possible reason for pains in the back, both affect the bones and are commonly observed among older individuals. Other diseases may be osteoporosis, slipped disc or even cancer.
- Lack of training
Your body needs movement and everyday activity to function properly. When you’re not supplying it with the minimum amount of physical activity, don’t be surprised to experience pain at different spots on your body. When the back muscles and the abdomen are weak, the pain usually appears as the body becomes hard to support. Do not attempt to lift heavy objects if you have no training at all.
While smoking doesn’t directly increase the risk of back injuries, it’s a fact that smoking reduces the blood flow to the lower spine. This may prevent the body from supplying the spine with the required amount of nutrients that your disks need for proper functioning. Since smoking keeps your body back in a more vulnerable state, it can be a reason for easier injury.
What can you do to reduce a heavy load?
When manually lifting:
- Reduce body twisting as much as possible
- Ask someone else to grab the heavy object on the other side
- Remain in a stable position until you drop off the weight
- Lift the weight not higher than your waist
- The higher you lift the object, the risk for injury increases. Holding heavy objects above your head is most dangerous
- Plan your route in advance so you take the shortest cut while loaded
Read more about manual lifting techniques.
How can the lifting of small loads cause injury?
Usually, the human body is most prone to injuries when a person is lifting heavier weights. What is a heavyweight, though? For some, an object weighing 20 kg might be a very lightweight thing, while for others, it would seem like something super heavy to lift from the ground.
An object’s weight is either light or compared to the weight of the person who’s lifting it. For a 50 kg woman, a 30kg box filled with training equipment is a heavy and dangerous load, while a grown-up, moderately trained man should deal with it easily.
What is important is that you can get injured even with small loads when you’re not properly evaluating your physical health, training, lifting skills and preparation.
Some of the reasons for injuries when lifting small loads are:
- Not warming up
- Lifting the weight in an exposed position
- Lifting a decent percentage of your own personal weight
- Health issues
- Previous injuries that have not healed properly
- Excessively lifting small weights with no rest at all
Avoid the abovementioned things when dealing with heavy or not-so-heavy objects. You’re always a risk of injury when you’re not following some basic lifting techniques.
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