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Lifting Technique

  • Are you a labourer lifting heavy tools?
  • Are you a carrying your child or grandchild?
  • Are you packing boxes and moving house – or even moving pots around in the garden?

It doesn’t matter what you’re lifting, we just want to make sure you’re doing it safely!

Unfortunately Osteopaths have a lot of patients coming in saying they hurt themselves from lifting.

Lifting injuries can include muscle strains, spasms and tearing, disc bulges and joint sprains. The most common complaint is lower back pain that is severe, intense and causing stiffness and rigidity in movement. Other complaints that can come from lifting can include shoulder neck injuries. After a discussing the mechanism of injury and your associated history of back pain or associated complaints, your osteopath will be able to:

  • Give you a diagnosis, treatment and management plan for your injury,
  • Provide relief with hands on treatment,
  • Discuss ways you can manage the acute phase of the injury,
  • Educate on the optimal way for you to lift,
  • Provide any exercises if required,
  • Refer for any imaging such as X-Rays or MRI if it is indicated –
  • Or refer to your GP for further pain medication or specialist referral if required.
  • Recommend supplements or over the counter pharmaceuticals
  • Advice on heat or cool packs
  • Advice on how to lie or move most comfortably

Osteopaths are constantly asked, “What is the best way to lift?” There is no one perfect way to lift. Technique of lifting will vary on a number of things of what you are lifting or moving, and your body! These includes being aware of what you are lifting in:

  • The weight,
  • The shape and size,
  • How long or far you will be carrying for,
  • Location of the load needing to be moved from or to.,
  • Does it need to be moved up high or in the back of a cupboard?
  •  What your body can handle,
  • Any previous injuries that may impact your function and movement

When lifting if you have a back injury, it is best to think of the technique like a squat.

  1. Keep your chest up, facing forwards,
  2. Bend with your knees like a deep squat. This is to help keep your back supported and stable – and avoid putting excess stress on your lower back muscles and discs,
  3. When standing, drive up with your gluteal muscles (the bottom muscles). Keeping your weight through your heels which will help your centre of gravity and load distribution,
  4. Ensure the weight is kept close to your body – this reduces the angle of force, making it easier to control and feel “less heavy”.
  5. Avoid twisting and turning through your trunk(upper back) and lower back while lifting as this is a prime way to cause significant pain or injury!
  6. Keep stomach muscles and “core” activated and “turned on” and strong to give you support and stability while you are lifting,
  7. Keep breathing while lifting/lowering/pushing heavy object as this will help create better spinal stability and control.

To help improve your lifting technique, your Osteopath will provide you with some appropriate exercises to teach you how to lift correctly and strengthen the lifting muscles. These can be as simple as sitting and standing from a chair (this movement replicates a squat).

If you have injured yourself from poor lifting, or want some guidance in order to avoid an injury, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at St Kilda Osteopathy.

Categories: Ergonomics, General Information, Pain Relief, Posture