Avoid back pain – lifting tips to help work around the house without saying “Ouch”

Lifting Core

MARCH 2016 – It is that time of year again! Time for lifting boxes, sorting through the garage, washing the windows, mopping the floor, cleaning under the rugs and finding the change under the couch.

Nothing like spring cleaning.

This translates to lots of lifting, bending and picking up. These are all things that can aggravate your back.

Consider the tips below to make your house shine without making your back whine.

Lift with your legs:

Remember the old adage of lift with your legs and not your back? Well it is just as true as ever. When picking things up and putting them down, do the work by bending and straightening your knees.

Your thigh muscles are stronger than your back muscles. Make them work and your back won’t hurt.

Keep objects close to you when lifting and carrying:

Simple as this sounds, many people make this mistake. This is simple leverage. Think of it like this, it’s obviously easier to hold five pound bags at your side instead of straight out in front of you.

So when you are taking that microwave off of the counter, slide it right to the edge before lifting. When you put it back, set it on the edge and then slide it back. Every lift has two phases. First bring it close, then lift.

When moving objects take extra steps, don’t twist:

Let’s imagine you are moving boxes between two countertops that are directly across from each other. It may be tempting or even faster to twist your upper body, but do that too much and your back will scream.

Instead, take enough steps that your feet go from facing counter A, to facing counter B. The less you twist at your spine the better.

Pick it up like a golfer:

Have something light to pick up, like a vacuum cord or a small piece of trash? Channel your inner Tom Watson to pick it up like a golf ball. Hinge on one hip. Your back can stay straight as you bend forward and the other leg comes off the ground as counter balance.

When spending a lot of time near the ground, squat or kneel down:

Don’t bend over from your spine the entire time. For some tasks you can sit on a footstool instead of the floor. When kneeling, use a foam pad or pillow so your knees do not bruise.

Use help when you can:

Move smarter not harder. Got to move that couch? Use furniture sliders. Got a heavy box to move? Empty out half the contents and take two easy trips, instead of one dangerous one, earmarked for back discomfort.

Got something really solid or awkward to move? Ask a friend to lend a hand. There’s no point in hurting yourself just to get something done faster.  There are no awards for heaviest sofa lift by an individual.

Keep these tips in mind and your spring cleaning should go off without a hitch. But if you end up in pain, call your physical therapist today!

Article by Scott Moreland, DPT. Scott is a physical therapist and movement specialist at CORE Strategies Physical Therapy, Sport Performance and Medical Fitness in Overland Park.  The CORE team specializes in rehabilitation and performance training for clients of all ages and activity levels.  To learn more about CORE’s sport specific programs visit www.coreptkc.com.  Contact Scott at scott@coreptkc.com.

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