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Back to Basics - Nicole Matoushek
The Mechanics of a Proper Lift: Injury Prevention 101!

Despite the increased awareness of proper lifting habits, many lower back injuries still occur as a result of manual material handling. Lifting not only involves both dynamic and static postures, but also the handling of a foreign object. Many injuries can be prevented by following proper lifting techniques:

  • Do not twist or turn the body during a lift. If you must change directions, do so by changing the position of the feet as opposed to twisting the spine.
  • Keep the load close to your body; this reduces the joint forces to the spine by reducing the lever arm.
  • Keep lifting materials in small sizes. Using smaller-sized materials reduces the joint forces on the spine by reducing the lever arm.
  • Test the weight prior to lifting. Use an assistive device if the load is heavy. This technique will also reduce injury from lifting an item that is much lighter than anticipated.
  • Clear the path to the final destination to prevent slip and fall injuries.
  • Use the legs in both lifting and lowering the item. Place your feet apart and close to the object. Keep the load centered and bend at the knees, as opposed to the waist. Use the legs to do the work as opposed to the back.
  • Set the load down slowly in a controlled manner. Do not drop it or let it go until it is on the ground.
  • Push an object as opposed to pulling it.

Source: Matoushek, Nicole (2004, January 5). Back to basics: the mechanics of a proper lift. Advance for Physical Therapists and PT Assistants p. 38.

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