How to Lift Safely and Avoid Common Injuries During Your Move

lift safely
This is NOT good lifting technique. Image: GollyGforce via Flickr

Many of us take the health of our backs for granted, especially when moving to a new home. But, our spines are delicate and vulnerable to injury. The various components (nerves, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments) work together to aid in our movement, from bending, to turning and stretching. A back injury can be debilitating, as the discomfort makes for a difficult recovery and lifestyle. The agony can also be chronic, as you are more likely to suffer another back injury in the future.

Here’s the good news: back injuries are preventable! There are plenty of tools—from back support belts to hand trucks—to save yourself unnecessary strain. Back strain is the top back injury. Here are some tips to lift safely and reduce the chances of injuring your back during your move.

  1. Use proper lifting technique

It may look dorky, but using a good lifting technique will make the difference between a safe move and a strained move. When approaching any object, size it up; the box or other item might be heavier than expected. Then, try the following techniques from the Safely

  • Begin with one knee resting on the floor.
  • Maintain the natural curve in your lower back, and don’t hold your breath.
  • Keep your core muscles tight and lift the object between your legs.
  • Rest the object on your knee as you prepare to stand.
  • When standing, use your leg muscles — not your back — to lift the object.

To make things easier, avoid lifting and bending whenever you can. You can also take mini-breaks between moving objects to rest up and/or do some stretches.  Have a friend or family member help you lift safely if something is too heavy- or awkward to handle. Also, try a back brace if you’re worried about injuring your vital body-mover.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings

Consider the path between the moving truck and your final destination.  For example, curbs, stairs or inclines may make carrying a box more challenging.  Here are some things to think about before picking up a box:

  • How far will you carry the load?
  • Will you have to open doors?
  • Does the path contain cords, slippery areas, stairs, curbs or uneven surfaces?

Slippery areas from bad weather (snow, ice or rain), slick surfaces or liquid spills can make you lose your footing. You also risk tripping on something that you don’t see when your vision is blocked from a box in your hands.. Here’s what you can do:

  • Clean up spills beforehand
  • Prevent slipping by using sand, ice melt or other anti-slip items on slippery areas
  • Move things out of your way before loading your arms with items
  • Use a utility or furniture dolly whenever possible

3. Stretch

Most people don’t think about stretching their muscles before a workout, and moving is no exception. Lifting safely is good body management.  Treat your body like an athlete would by safely stretching your muscles, ligaments and tendons. There are several good stretching examples from Mayo Clinic, and you can find more online.

Do you have any suggestions for avoiding back injuries? Any tips for back stretches? Tell us in the comments below!

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