Whether shopping bags, drinks crates, holiday suitcases or heavy boxes at the office: there’s always something weighty we have to carry around with us or lift. This can affect your back – especially if you go about it the wrong way.
The following checklist gives you some guidance to make day-to-day lifting easier:
- REDUCE THE WEIGHT OF THE LOAD.
This is actually logical, but it's a piece of advice that is often ignored: wherever possible, load weights should be reduced to easily manageable sizes. It’s better to distribute large shopping loads between two shopping bags than to carry a single heavy load on one side with one hand.
- USE OF AIDS.
We often find ourselves in the situation of having to carry objects that are actually much too heavy for us. Whether suitcases, drinks crates, packing cases or heavy boxes: here we should make use of aids to significantly reduce the load. Make sure your suitcase is fitted with wheels, for example. Heavy (drinks) crates should, if possible, only be transported using a handcart or a stair climber.
- CREATE AN ERGONOMIC ENVIRONMENT.
Particular attention should also be paid to the physical environment so as to facilitate lifting, carrying, stretching, lowering and raising. The most important point here:
– sufficient room to move
– high of load pick-up/deposit from approx. 70 to 100 cm and
– sufficient visibility while moving
- CORRECT LIFTING TECHNIQUE.
When lifting with a straight back, the burden on the intervertebral disc decreases by approx. 20 % as compared to lifting with a hunched back. In addition, a good lifting technique ensures that the load is applied much more evenly to the intervertebral discs: this is because the burden is only applied on compression, and the compressive stress is distributed favourably over the entire surface of the intervertebral discs and vertebral bodies. This is the right way to do it:
- Move in as close as possible to the load
- Position your legs so they are at least hip-width apart
- Keep your back upright
- Go into a squat with your back straight
- Actively tense your abdominal muscles when lifting
- Support the load close to the centre of your own body
- SENSIBLE TIME MANAGEMENT.
The muscle groups used for lifting and carrying get tired over time. As fatigue increases, strength decreases and attention is reduced. As a result, the work is perceived as more challenging, so it is performed with less care and the risk of injury increases. To prevent this, the workload should be divided up so that fatigue is kept to a minimum.
- AVOID TWISTS AND JERKING MOVEMENTS.
In order to prevent lumbago or, in the worst case, a slipped disc, you should make absolutely sure you do not turn your upper body while transporting loads. Instead, be sure to turn your entire body. Start by lifting the load and then turn your entire body in the desired direction of movement, taking small steps as you go. Then you can set the load down in a controlled manner with your back straight.
- GET HELP.
If you lift heavy and bulky goods alone, you will often move in jerks. Jerky movements put a lot of strain on your spine. So: if at all possible, get help! Carry out movements in a controlled (rather slow) manner.
Granted: correct lifting and carrying needs practice. But once you have internalised it, the technique is completely automatic in day-to-day life.