Proper lifting techniques are important when moving heavy loads, but did you know they are equally important when picking up something as small as a pencil? We’ve all heard the cautionary instruction to lift with the legs and not with the back. But the reason why is not simply because the weight of the object; it’s also because of the weight of your upper body.
Think About This
If you bend across a desk or counter to pick up a pencil, you are lifting the whole top half of your body that is extending past your midsection to reach for that pencil. This can cause your back to “go out” due to overexertion of muscles that support it. Over time, this bending and weakness in the muscles can cause long term damage to your spine.
Our spines are made mostly of bones (vertebrae), discs and nerves. Discs keep the bones from crushing down on the nerves, but when we bend our backs, one side of the disk is being pressed down with all the weight being lifted. The pencil example, extended over a whole career, illustrates how easy it is to damage your back.
Tips to Avoid Back Injury
Try sliding objects toward you before lifting them off a surface. To access something close to the ground, whether the lower drawer of a file cabinet or an object that has been dropped, always bend your knees and squat close to the object before lifting it. The most important thing you can do to avoid lifting hazards over time involves avoiding these situations as much as possible by taking control over your own workspace. Consider how often you perform certain lifting tasks. Try to place the things you access most often close to you and between your hips and shoulders. This includes organizing desks, counters, cabinets, drawers, and shelves so that frequently accessed items as well as heavy ones are in this zone. A regular review of your workspace can help protect your back throughout a long career in any field.
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