Heavy Lifting at the Holidays – Be Sure to Protect Your Back

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The last few months of the year always seem to be the busiest. From traveling and shopping to decorating and dealing with changing weather, there are many different opportunities for you to hurt yourself if you’re not careful. Be especially careful of lifting heavy objects alone such as suitcases, large gifts or boxes of decorations. It’s always seems easier to just heft it by yourself, but you only increase the chance of seriously injuring yourself if you do not take proper precautions.

  • Take your time to examine the object that you will move. Does it have handles or grips? Is it on the floor or someplace elevated? Is it solid? Is it liquid? Is it really possible for you to lift the object by yourself or could you benefit from some assistance?
  • Wear flats or shoes with a one inch heel or less. It is essential that you maintain your balance with sturdy shoes. All of the weight will ideally be on your legs, an extension of your feet.
  • Stand close to the load you plan to carry. Once you’ve determined your approach, center your weight and place your feet shoulder-width apart while tightening your abdominal muscles. Lift one edge of the object to carefully gauge the weight. Again, ask yourself if you can do it alone or should you get help.
  • Arrange the object so that it will not slip or move when you lift it. Make sure the balance will not shift while you’re lifting it. Keep your back straight, bend your knees, and squat down before reaching to grab hold. Make sure you have a good grasp before lifting. If the object contains liquid, be careful not to slosh as the movement can create a force that can knock you off balance.
  • Keep the load close to your body, and get up while you still have a straight back. It is important that you do not bend your back to get leverage to lift the object. Keep your back strong and straight.
  • Slowly begin applying force with your legs and arms. If you give a sudden, hard pull or jerk you could injure your back. Use your strength from your legs and arms to lift the object.
  • Bend through your knees with a straight back to place the load in a different spot.
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