The Southeastern Spine Institute

Follow these lifting guidelines to avoid back surgery.

Most people have heard the common caveats when it comes to bending, lifting and carrying to avoid back surgery:

  • Use your legs
  • Balance your load before moving
  • Don’t overdo it
  • Rely on hand trucks and other moving tools when available
  • Make sure your path is cleared and level

But if that’s all it takes to prevent an injury to your back, then why are so many accidents still being reported? Why are people — especially those with demanding physical jobs — still not taking the necessary, common-sense precautions to avoid back surgery?

There’s More to It

Lower back pain is one of the top reasons people visit a doctor, so it’s no wonder your spine physicians at Southeastern Spine Institute provide lifting and carrying education on a regular basis. The strain on your back from improper lifting and carrying techniques is so preventable. Take responsibility to learn the best techniques. Start by understanding the three ways you can harm your back when lifting or carrying objects, large and small:

  • Joint Injury: Your spinal joints —where the muscles meet the bones in your back — are particularly susceptible to injury when you’re lifting or carrying lighter objects because you may not pay as much attention to technique. Even with lighter loads, your joints can lock up and lead to debilitating pain if you move the wrong way.
  • Muscle Injury: Muscle injuries often occur over time. Each little strain creates minor tears in the sinewy tissues in your back that give you flexibility. Too much improper demand on those back muscles leads to a type of painful back injury that may not lead directly to back surgery, but can still cause pain and other issues.
  • Disc Injury: A disc can rupture, bulge or even break open when you lift something the wrong way. Aggravating the disc injury by carrying the object improperly leads to lasting pain that can radiate down your legs.

Do It Right Every Time

It only takes one small mistake to hurt your back. Being lazy, rushed or distracted are common themes that lead to back surgery. And while you definitely should use your legs for lifting and to balance yourself when carrying objects, include these tips for proper lifting and carrying techniques to avoid back surgery:

  • Size up a load before you even begin lifting.
  • Check the area to ensure you have sufficient room to stoop and move around safely.
  • Keep your back straight but not vertical as you stoop.
  • Tuck in your chin to help keep your back straight.
  • Use the palms of your hands to stabilize the load.
  • Push up with your legs.
  • Rely on your body weight to begin moving.
  • Keep your elbows and arms close to your body while moving.
  • Change directions by shifting your feet and turning your whole body.
  • Ask for help if a load appears to be too heavy or awkward.

You can avoid back surgery. Be careful. Do not:

  • Use your back muscles to lift or carry
  • Twist your body while carrying a load
  • Try to lift something that is too heavy or awkward for you