Whether you’re in the process of doing a thorough spring cleaning, tackling big clean-up projects in your yard, helping a friend move or doing heavy lifting as part of your job, protect your back when doing any lifting. Lower back pain, often from improper lifting, is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor. But that doesn’t mean it’s an inevitability.
With just a few adjustments to your form, you can protect your back, avoid aggravating a previous back injury or prevent a new one. Your spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute and Ambulatory Surgery Center (SSI) provide you with clear instructions for how to protect your back, instructions to follow especially when lifting anything heavy.
Good Form Is Tantamount
“Lift with your legs” is an adage you’ve likely heard countless times. But what does that actually mean? You can avoid many instances of acute back pain by following a few simple rules before you start, such as:
- Limber up. First and foremost, make sure you’re stretched out before you start. Take just five minutes to do bodyweight squats and ankle grab quad stretches to protect your hamstrings and quadriceps — the most important muscles when lifting.
- Wait until after morning. If you’re prone to back pain, put off any lifting until the afternoon. When you sleep, fluid builds up in the spongy discs between your vertebrae. This makes the muscles surrounding your spinal column tighter and more likely to spasm or strain than at a later point in the day.
- Backside out. To protect your back while lifting, push out your buttocks as you descend. Simply step your feet shoulder-width apart, replicate the squat from your stretch and maintain an upright posture on your way down and back up.
- Keep it close. With heavy lifting, make sure you’re not overexerting yourself. While your first instinct might be to pick something up from its location, your back will appreciate it if you first pull the item towards your body and then lift.
- Be mindful. Taking a few deep breaths to center yourself before lifting can go a long way to protect your back. Notice your body’s natural position and adjust accordingly into the good form that’s recommended.
- Lift a leg. Picking up something small might not seem as risky, but consistent improper form can lead to similar strain. Next time you’re picking up a fallen pen or your dog’s water bowl, place your hand on something sturdy for balance and lift one leg behind you as you bend forward.
Treatments for Back Strain from Lifting
Even with all the knowledge in the world, you still may find yourself experiencing back pain from lifting. The severity of the injury determines the best cause of action for relief. Contacting your doctor at SSI should be the first step so you don’t do further damage. But common treatments for light muscle strains include:
- Over-the-counter pain medicine
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Ice or heat packs
- Modified daily activities while you heal
- Chiropractic therapy
- Massage therapy
- Physical therapy
If a major problem arises, your spine doctors at SSI have a multitude of minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures to relieve your pain and correct the issue. Along with taking safety precautions to protect your back, you can always contact SSI for any questions related to back muscle tension and strain.