The Southeastern Spine Institute

Each day, about 2,750 Americans hurt their backs. Americans miss work more frequently from lower back pain than from any other malady except the common cold. Whether you just pulled a muscle or are experiencing herniated disc symptoms, back pain can be debilitating. It’s no wonder people call in sick when they’ve hurt their backs; they can’t move without pain.

Yet despite the ubiquity of back trauma throughout the country, most back injuries are completely preventable. Treat your spine like the treasured structure it is. Take precautions when lifting, twisting or bending. And learn the proper ergonomics of lifting.

Too many people are injured lifting too quickly or letting their backs do all the work. Since you can feel herniated disc symptoms from lifting the wrong way, it behooves you to learn the proper way to lift things — and to put that knowledge to use every day. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 75 percent of all back injuries happen when lifting something. Read on to learn proper lifting techniques and avoid back injuries.

Before You Lift…

The first step of the proper lifting technique is to stretch your muscles. Standing with your hands on your hips, roll from your waist to your right in a large circle. Repeat in the other direction. Then take a step forward and straighten your back leg as you lean forward slightly. Feel your hamstring stretch. Repeat with the other leg.

Now shift your weight to your rear leg. Straightening your front leg, lift your toes toward the ceiling. Bend forward at your waist and feel the stretch in your calf and ankle. Repeat with the other leg.

Now You’re Ready

To avoid herniated disc symptoms, lift with your legs, not your back. That means keeping your back straight while you lift. Approach the object and using your legs and hips, squat down to it. Get a good grip. Keep one foot flat and the other a bit to the side, to aid your balance.

When you’re ready, push with your legs into a standing position, keeping your back straight. If the object is too heavy, return to the squat and release it. Don’t hurt yourself; instead, ask for help.

If you can lift it, use your legs and hips to gain a full upright position. Your arms should remain straight. You’re carrying the weight of the object with your legs, not your arms. Walk to wherever you need to go and reverse the process to place the object on a surface or onto the floor. It’s as dangerous (or more dangerous) putting the object down as it is picking it up. Be careful!

Lifting Tips

  • Do not bend or twist when lifting or setting something down. Keep your hips square.
  • Get as close to the object as possible when you are picking it up.
  • Don’t hold your breath when you’re lifting or putting something down. Breathe.
  • Keep your legs shoulder width apart to maintain your balance.
  • Do not jerk up to a standing position. This is not an Olympic event.
  • Keep your path and your eye lines clear.

Use this technique even for objects that aren’t heavy. Many people don’t think they can get hurt by picking up light objects, but herniated disc symptoms are always ready to reveal themselves if you lift anything the wrong way.