Disclaimer: Although I am a licensed physical therapist, I am NOT your physical therapist. Everything in this blog is for educational purposes only and not meant to replace any advice you have received from your Doctors.
A lot of lower back injuries happen when you are simultaneously lifting AND twisting. Like lifting a box and turning to put it down, or when shoveling and throwing the snow behind you... But a lower back injury can happen anytime. Even during the most simple of activities.
(I have had countless athletes that lift hundreds of pounds at the gym, come in with a lower back injury from bending over to tie their shoe 🤦🏻♀️)
This happens when you lift something with poor lifting mechanics. In other words, if you had adjusted the way you lifted it, chances are you would NOT have hurt your lower back.
So read on and keep these 3 tips in mind to never hurt your lower back when lifting ever again!
1. BRING THE OBJECT AS CLOSE TO YOUR BODY AS POSSIBLE
I won't dive into the physics here... but just know that the further away the object is from your body the more likely you are to injury yourself.
When you bring your body closer to the object, you can rely on your your shoulder muscles, leg muscles, core muscle and back muscles to do the lifting. As opposed to relying only on your shoulder and lower back muscles when lifting an object further away from your body.
FOR ALL THE PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN... ⬇️
This is such a key one for people lifting babies and children! And it's not your fault! The things you have to lift your kids in and out of makes it almost impossible to bring that sweet bundle of joy as close to your body as possible.
Two specific scenarios I want to point out: lifting your kid out of the crib and lifting the carseat in and out of the car...
Like I already mentioned, sometimes you can't avoid doing a little reaching when trying to lift in those two scenarios, but here are some tips to help!
When lifting your child out of the crib...
➢ If you have a drop side crib, always lower the side completely before lifting
➢If you don't have a drop side crib, consider using a step stool to stand on when lifting your child out of the crib
✯ Making yourself slightly higher allows you get your child closer to your
body before lifting
✯ BUT if the step stool is too high it will make the distance you are lifting
longer, which can make this worse... find what works best for you!
When lifting the car seat...
➢ Always get as close to the car as possible before reaching with the baby seat
➢ Rest your thighs up against the seats of the car to create more of an anchor for your body to rely on
➢ If you have a higher car with a step, always step up onto the ledge first, before reaching in with the baby seat
2. PRACTICE YOUR HIP HINGE STRENGTH
Yes, we have all heard the phrase "lift with your legs". But if you have never taught your body how to properly hinge in your hips, then your body might not actually know how to lift with your legs!
When you properly hinge in your hips, you avoid rounding in your spine and use more of your leg muscles to do the lifting. A proper hip hinge also places exponentially less strain on your lower back because your glute and hamstring (back of the leg) muscles are able to help with the lifting.
The basics of the hip hinge...
➢ A small bend in your knees
➢ Brace your core (imagine how you would get ready for someone to punch you in the stomach) and keep your spine neutral
➢ REACH your hips back as far as they go keeping your chest as upright as you can
A hip hinge is the same thing as a DEADLIFT
Check out my Instagram video below on how to properly do a SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT. The principles for a regular deadlift/hip hinge are the same!
Adding hip hinging movement into your daily routine, or adding some deadlifting into your exercise routine will do wonders for your lower back!
Not only will your core and leg muscle get stronger (which in of itself lowers your risk for lower back injuries) but you also are teaching your body to get better at this movement. Just like anything, the more you do it, the better you get! The more your body knows how to confidently hip hinge, the better you will get at lifting and the less likely you are to injury your lower back!
3. PUSH OR PULL INSTEAD OF LIFTING AT ALL!
If you don't need to lift the object to move it, DON'T LIFT IT!
Try pushing or pulling the object instead.
When pushing or pulling an object you will be more likely to use your leg muscles. Engaging your core and pushing or pulling with your entire body will also greatly decrease the strain on your lower back.
Are you moving? Pay the extra $$ to get the dolly to push and pull... you wont regret it!
So there ya have it! Keep those 3 tips in mind the next time you have to lift something heavy. Comment with any questions! And sign up below to stay up to date with all future blog posts and get more injury prevention tips straight to your inbox!
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