Proper Lifting Techniques for Everyone

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), backs are the most commonly impacted body part in injuries, making up 18.9 percent of total injury cases in 2017. The BLS also stated that the average amount of time away from work was eight days due to injuries. Although no approach is foolproof, many injuries could be avoided by incorporating proper lifting techniques that can be an effective standard in both offices and healthcare.

Never Lift with Your Back

When lifting a heavy object, never bend over from the waist, grab the object then use your back muscles to lift. This action can cause severe and intense injury to your back, and the damage could take a long time to heal.

Lift with Your Legs

Keep your back straight and use your quads to carry the weight of the object or person you are lifting. Hold the subject while keeping your knees bent and use your leg muscles to straighten and lift. Lower your chin while keeping your back as vertical as possible. This is best accomplished by keeping the object as close to you as you can as you move straight up.

Get a Firm Grasp

Get a firm grasp of the object before beginning to lift.

Lift Close to Your Body

The closer you are to the person or item you are lifting, the easier it will be for you to use your legs and avoid throwing out your back muscles. Limit the action of carrying or transferring someone or something at arm’s length as much as possible.

Limit Twisting Motions

Twisting while holding a person or any heavy object forces your back, hip, and leg muscles to become vulnerable as they try to manage and counterbalance the weight you are carrying. Pivot your entire body if you have to.

Engage Your Stomach Muscles

Engaging your stomach muscles while lifting helps protect the back and prevent injury. Use your core muscles when lifting from the legs to ensure that your back isn’t getting strained.

Use Smooth Movements

Don’t rush or make jerky movements that may unexpectedly strain your muscles. Have a strategy of where and how you will properly lift the patient or object ahead of time.

Let the Patient Help, if They Can

If the patient is mobile and can support themselves somewhat, ask or allow them to help by bearing some of their own weight, if they can safely do so. This will require some communication and knowledge of the patient’s condition, but it is much easier than trying to lift the weight yourself.

Know Your Limits

If you are lifting something and you can barely manage, get help. Do not try to go it alone; you will only increase the chances of injuring yourself and possibly someone else. It is possible to transfer a somewhat mobile person alone, but a transfer when the person is lying down will always require more than one person.

Using proper lifting techniques can help prevent both back injuries and downtime. Practicing these precautionary methods will soon become good daily habits. While no approach is 100 percent guaranteed, incorporating these methods will benefit all involved.