Proper Lifting Techniques

September 28, 2015 9:30 pm

A woman doing a chest press

Life doesn’t stop simply because of pain. For many patients with chronic pain, or those recovering from an accident, the simplest daily activities can result in misery. Learning proper ways to complete everyday tasks, such as lifting a heavy object, can help to minimize the pain you feel, while protecting yourself from further injury.

General Rules for Proper Lifting

Although each lifting situation is different, there are a few general principles to keep in mind before lifting any object:

1. Accurately assess the weight of the object. While injuries are due more to the way your body reacts while lifting, heavier objects can cause you to be unable to control the way your body moves. Seek assistance if you think the object is too heavy for you to lift alone.
2. Point your toes towards the object and move your body as close as you can to avoid overreaching.
3. Bend your knees to lift an object from the ground.
4. Lift in a smooth motion.
5. Never twist while lifting an object.

Common Health Issues Related to Improper Lifting Techniques

Lifting a heavy object incorrectly can cause a variety of problems even for healthy individuals. People who are injured need to be extra careful while picking up even a light-weight object. Most injuries are not directly tied to the actual weight of the object, but the way people bend, reach or twist their bodies while lifting.

Some of the most common injuries associated with improper lifting techniques are:

Shoulder injuries: Bruising, strains, and sprains are common injuries from lifting. Although not serious, they can be very painful. A separation of the shoulder, where the collarbone physically separates from the shoulder blade because of a torn ligament is much more serious, and requires immediate medical attention. This type of injury can occur from overreaching during a lift, which may also cause a torn rotator cuff.

Back injuries: Back injuries from lifting are often sprains and strains from twisting your body. More serious back injuries which need treatment from a doctor include herniated disks, or compressions of the nerves in the lower back.

Knee injuries: The knee is the largest joint in the body and improper bending or twisting can cause significant injuries such as dislocations and tears which require medical attention. More minor, yet painful injuries include sprains and strains to the knee’s ligaments and tendons.

Lifting Techniques for Specific Situations

It is important to always warm up before you start lifting, and remember to choose the proper weight for your level. If you have questions about your weight limit, contact a professional personal trainer. YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City certified personal trainer, Sandy Sienkiewicz models the proper lifting techniques for the following exrcises:

Bicep Curl
proper bicep curl

1. Lift slowly and steadily
2. Keep your elbows tight to your sides
3. Engage your core muscles
3. Always keep your spine straight and control the movement of the free weights.
4. Never lift past total muscle exhaustion.
5. Go to your full range of motion, never past it.

Chest Press

chest press
1. Keep dumbbells over your chest, not your face.
2. Use a proper grip, keep your wrists completely straight.
3. Lift steadily.
4. Keep your spine straight, and avoid arching your back.
5. Your head should be supported by the bench or floor
6. Don’t drop elbows below 90 degrees
7. Never lift past total muscle exhaustion.

Leg Press

proper leg press
1. Set your feet about hip width apart.
2. Knees should be in line with heels.
3. Engage your core muscles
4. Press with your legs, but avoid locking your knees.
5. Push with your heels, and keep your spine straight.
6. Never lift past total muscle exhaustion.

Picking Up a Child

1. Remove any obstructions between you and your child.
2. Get close and face your child.
3. Lift, being sure to avoid twisting.

Lifting a Box From the Ground

1. Stand close to the box with your feet shoulder-width apart. One foot should be slightly further back than the other.
2. Bend at the knees and hips.
3. Keep your back straight and your chin down. Look at what you are lifting.
4. Keep your elbows at your sides, and lift slowly and steady.
5. Keep the box as close to you as possible.
6. If you need to move, take small steps while maintaining your posture.
7. Set the box down by bending at your knees and hips.

Rearranging Furniture

1. Determine if you must lift the furniture, or if it is possible to use furniture sliders.
2. Make sure there is a clear path to where you want to move the piece of furniture.
3. Assess the weight, and seek assistance for heavy furniture.
4. Follow the same steps as for lifting a box.

As always consult your physician before exercising to avoid injury. If you experience any pain during exercise or lifting, call your pain management doctor right away.

For more tips on preventing pain, check out our Desk Ergonomics Blog.