DAVE WATTS, MD
Orthopedic injuries caused by common lifting mistakes
Moving furniture around your apartment, rearranging the garage, or even lifting a heavy box from the doorstep might not feel painful in the moment, but all of these seemingly everyday actions can lead to serious problems without any warning. Lifting items that are too heavy can put undue strain on your back and shoulders, leading to hip surgery, spinal cord injury treatment, or worse. That’s why it’s so important not to ignore joint pain when it first strikes. Even if you’re extra cautious about lifting heavy objects carefully, failing to visit a sports orthopedic doctor and have your injury seen by a specialist could end up hurting you in the long term. If you’re worried about damaging your spine and back, here are a few safety precautions to be aware of during heavy lifting.
Back Injuries from Not Knowing the Object Weight
Before lifting anything, you should know roughly how much you’re lifting. This isn’t just a way to protect you from taking on too much. Knowing the weight of an object before lifting it will help you plan the process out better rather than having to deal with the surprise of an extremely heavy object in your hands. For instance, if you know you’ll be lifting a very heavy item, you can plan to do it in shifts rather than pushing yourself to make a run for it. If you’re only moving the object a short distance, you can try alternate methods, such as pushing the item or getting a loading dock or cart to help. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to plan. Knowing an object’s weight can also have a positive mental effect. Hearing the weight as a number can sometimes allow us to say “no” to lifting something that’s too heavy, rather than picking it up and feeling obligated to carry it the rest of the way.
Shoulder Injuries From Not Lifting from the Knees
If you want to protect your back, the most important thing to remember is to use your core strength as well as your lower body to lift heavy objects, not just your arms and upper body. Seeing an object on the floor triggers the same response in many of us: We want to simply bend over and use our arms to pick it up. However, no matter what you’re lifting, using your knees and lower body to give you more momentum will help keep you safe from back injury and shoulder pain in the long run. The heavier the object, the more likely you’ll be to injure your back by lifting it improperly.
Knee Injuries From Not Breathing Correctly
When it comes to heavy lifting, you’ll want all the mental distraction you can get. Learning how to breathe properly during exercise isn’t just a helpful way to make sure you’re getting enough air. It can make you more aware of your body in the moment, which in turn can prevent you from making painful mistakes by taking on too much weight or lifting something in the wrong way. Breathing steadily and using your core as a focal point, stay aware of your breath intake while lifting to make sure you’re not holding your breath or overexerting yourself.