I remember one of my first in-services I attended on body mechanics. The main point I took from the lecture was to stick out your buttocks when lifting. I have been teaching this ever since.
Give it a try. Yes, I mean NOW.
Start by standing up straight.
Now stick your buttocks out behind you.
What did you notice? Your knees bend naturally; your torso leans forward by using your hip joints as hinges; and your back should have stayed straight maintaining the natural curves of the spine.
If you try to bend over without sticking your buttocks out behind you, you will notice that your shoulders are rounded and you are bending at your waist as your arms reach down. This position puts your back at risk for injury when bending or lifting.
Maintaining the 3 natural curves of the spine is important for protecting your back. If you bend at the waist instead of the hips, you are using your back more than your legs to do the lift, which then puts undue strain on the muscles, discs, and ligaments of the back. This repetitive incorrect bending and lifting habit makes our backs weak over time and leads to injury.
I have heard more than once, “I was just bending over to pick up my pen and I got a sharp pain in my back. Now I can hardly move.” That must have been one heavy pen. Most back pain is actually caused by poor body mechanics throughout your life, but it often appears that one specific event caused the pain.
Do you find your back aching by the end of the day? If you answered yes, you need to pay close attention to how you are bending and lifting throughout the day.
Before you pick up a heavy object, you most likely think about how you are going to lift the object safely before you start to lift. But what about light objects? Do you pay attention to how you are bending to pick up the object? Probably, not so much. It is not always the weight of the object but the repetitive motion of bending that causes the back injuries.
Next time you are bending over to pick up your shoes, brushing your teeth, or loading the dishwasher notice how your body moves. Are you reaching your arms forward, rounding your back, and bending at your waist? Or are you sticking your buttocks out, keeping your spine straight, hinging at your hips, and bending your knees?
If you find that you are bending at your waist, you are setting yourself up for a back injury. If you already have a back injury then you definitely want to make sure you are bending correctly in every moment to give your back a chance to heal and become pain-free.
Of course there are other tips for lifting which we will go over in future blog posts. But for now, don’t forget to stick out your derrière. Your back will thank you.
Happy Day! Here’s to Keeping your Back Happy and Healthy!