By Rachael Bird, Myotherapist
Lifting techniques can contribute to back pain - but like with so many things, its usually a combination of factors that lead to pain after lifting.
While I love helping people with back pain, I also understand that a lot of lifting related pain can be avoided by taking your time and managing the loads well. Here’s some of the nuggets of wisdom I give to my patients who injure their back while lifting.
Some of the most common factors I see that lead to this kind of back pain are:
Poor Lifting Techniques: Improper lifting techniques, such as bending at the waist rather than the knees, can strain the back muscles and lead to injury. Also keep in mind to be careful if you need to twist or lean while holding a heavy load. Generally these lifting techniques may be alright for a small number of light lifts, but if you know you need to lift a lot of items or you know that what you need to move will be heavy, pay closer attention especially as you start to notice fatigue.
Overexertion: Moving heavy items like furniture without proper rest or support can cause muscle fatigue and strain. Take smart breaks if you are going to be lifting heavy or frequently, whether thats a one off event like moving house, or regular weight training at the gym.
Lack of Conditioning: If you are not accustomed to heavy lifting or physical exertion, sudden lifting or moving activities can strain unconditioned muscles and lead to injury. Slowly build up your strength so that you can feel more resilient. If you have a sensitivity from a previous injury, take that into consideration when planning activities that need you to lift heavy things.
Inadequate Support: Carrying heavy objects without proper support or assistance can put excessive stress on the back. Where you can, use a trolley, box or bag, or recruit a buddy to help move a large, awkward or heavy object.
Repetitive Strain: Repeated bending, lifting, and carrying many items over an extended period can cause cumulative stress on the back muscles and spine. Take frequent breaks, even if the workload is light and especially if you are unaccustomed to lifting.
Pre-existing Conditions: If you have a pre-existing back issue or sensitivity, you may be more susceptible to back pain when engaging in heavy lifting or moving activities. If you’ve been injured in the past, make sure you take it slow and take care of yourself.
Are you planning to move house soon? Do you have a job that involves moving things around, loading or unloading things? Or do you know that you need to do some serious lifting in the near future? Here are some of my top tips to minimise the risk of back pain when you’re lifting:
Use Protective Lifting Techniques: Lift with your legs, not your back. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and use your leg muscles to lift. Engage your core.
Ask for Help: When moving heavy or bulky items, ask for help or use moving tools (like a trolley or straps) to share the load. Are you moving house? Consider outsourcing it to a removalist, it will cost you money instead of injury and pain!
Take Breaks: Don’t overexert yourself. Take breaks during moving tasks to rest and stretch your muscles. Take a break before your body feels like it needs a break - by the time you’re feeling it, you probably needed to rest 10 minutes earlier!
Use Proper Equipment: Utilise proper lifting equipment or tools designed to reduce strain on your back.
Stay Active and Strong: Regular exercise and maintaining overall fitness can help prepare your body for physical tasks like lifting and moving.
Back pain resulting from heavy lifting or moving can be prevented by being mindful of these factors and taking appropriate precautions to protect your back and overall well-being.
Have you already hurt your back lifting something heavy and now need some pain relief? I’m here for you! Book in with me and we can make a plan that looks at relieving the pain in the short term, and building up the strength and resilience long term as a preventative to future injuries.
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