Lifting heavy items is one of the most common workplace hazards. It is extremely easy to injure yourself while lifting something heavy, even when you think you are capable of the weight. Unfortunately, if you injure your back, it can take you out of action, and even out of work for more than a week, as well as experiencing pain and discomfort. The most common reason why people seek physiotherapy is that they have not implied the proper techniques when lifting something heavy. To avoid injuring yourself next time you are required to lift something heavy, here are some top tips for you to follow.
#1 EVALUATE THE ITEM
Before lifting anything, it is important to evaluate the item and consider the weight of the load. It may be something that you can carry, but the size or shape of the item makes it awkward to handle. Consider whether you need to enlist the help of someone else, or the use of equipment such as a forklift. Spending a little extra time can go a long way to avoiding an injury.
#2 WARM UP
If the item is extremely heavy, or you have a lot of items to carry, you may wish to perform a warm-up beforehand. This will help you to significantly reduce the risk of injury, while making you more flexible, and therefore, easier to perform the lift. It will also help your muscles recover quickly afterwards so you are not aching for days.
#3 KEEP THE SPACE CLEAR OF CLUTTER
When you are lifting something heavy, it will be more challenging to navigate the space you are in. Make sure you clear the space before you lift anything. This will ensure you do not injure yourself by tripping up, which can be fatal while carrying something heavy, and make it much easier to get to your final destination.
#4 BEND YOUR HIPS
When you have assessed the item and the space, and have warmed up sufficiently, you should first take a strong stance and bend down at your hips, as opposed to your back. Keep your back facing forward, and as upright as possible. Squat down and engage the muscles in your legs. The leg and hip focus will take the pressure off your back.
#5 FACE FORWARD AND KEEP THE LOAD CLOSE TO YOUR BODY.
It is easy to want to look down or around the room when picking something up, but you must keep your gaze forward. This will reduce the risk of injury as you are not twisting in different directions and putting pressure on your back. Keep the load close to your body so that you have more control, and help with your balance, as it is closer to your centre of gravity. This will also use less energy to manoeuvre. Make sure you have a tight grip on the item and keep it as close to your hips as possible.
Taking steps to ensure you lift a heavy item correctly can go a long way in avoiding injuries. Although it may take a little extra time to complete, it will be worthwhile.