1. Assess the Situation
Before lifting and carrying a heavy object, take a few moments to assess the situation.
- How far will you have to carry the load?
- Is the way clear of clutter, cords, slippery areas, overhangs, stairs, curbs, or uneven surfaces?
- Will there be doors that are closed? Ask someone to hold a door open or place a wedge under the door to hold it open.
- Once you get the load up, will you be able to see over the load, or will the load block your view?
- Can the load be disassembled, carried in pieces and then reassembled?
2. Before You Lift
Take a few moments to "size up the load." Test the weight by lifting a corner of the object. If it is too heavy or if the object is an odd shape, STOP!
- Ask for help. Two or three people lifting a heavy object is much safer than trying to do it yourself.
- Use a hand truck, pushcart, or a mechanical lifting device.
- Consider using gloves that will improve your grip and protect your hands.
Never lift anything unless you are sure you can do so safely.
3. Lifting the Load
The KEY to lifting safely is keeping your back straight or slightly arched. NEVER USE YOUR BACK TO LIFT!
- Start the lift by putting your feet close to the object. Get a firm footing.
- Center your body over your feet.
- Squat down like a professional weightlifter, bending your knees. Keep your back straight or slightly arched. You want your legs to do the lifting, not your back.
- Keeping the chest pointing forward will guarantee a straight back.
- Grasp the load securely with your hands, and pull the load close to you.
- Smoothly lift straight up. NEVER TWIST YOUR BODY WHILE LIFTING, KEEPING YOUR HEAD UP, AS IF LOOKING STRAIGHT AHEAD, NOT DOWN.
- The shoulders should be kept in line with the hips to avoid twisting.
4. Carrying the Load
As you carry the load:
- Keep the load close to your body. The further an object is held from ones center of gravity, the more force required to hold that object up.
- Keep your back straight or slightly arched.
- Walk slowly and surely.
- Use your feet to change directions. Never twist your back.
- Avoid leaning over.
- Avoid lifting a load over your head.
- If you become tired, set the load down, and rest for a few moments.
5. Setting the Load Down
Setting the load down is the reverse of lifting.
- Position yourself where you want to set the load.
- Squat down. Let your legs to do the work, not your back.
- REMEMBER NOT TO TWIST YOUR BODY WHILE SETTING DOWN A LOAD, AND KEEP YOUR HEAD UP.
- Once the load is where you want it, release your grip. Never release your grip on a load until it is secure. You don't want to drop a load on your foot. Or, if someone is helping you, dropping a load unexpectedly can injure the other person.
Maintaining a Healthy Back
Posture - Standing
- Stand up straight. Don't slouch.
- If you must stand for long periods of time, use a footrest or anti-fatigue mats.
- Select and use appropriate footwear that is comfortable.
Posture - Sitting
- Sitting is actually harder on your back than standing.
- Sit up straight. Again, don't slouch.
- If you must sit for long periods of time, consider using a pillow or towel to support your lower back.
- Select and use a chair that fits you. Make sure that when you are sitting that your knees are slightly higher than your hips.
Posture - Lying Down
- Select a mattress that doesn't sag. Or, replace one that does.
- Sleep on your side with your knees bent or on your back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your head resting on a stack of pillows.
- Increasing your flexibility is a great way to avoid lower back pain and injury.
- Try stretching those muscles with simple exercises like touching your toes.
- Perhaps enrolling in a yoga and / or pilates class is the answer for keeping limber.
- Take many small breaks between lifts if you are lifting a number of things.