Lifting injuries are among the most common causes of back pain. By following a few simple rules, the stresses placed on teh spine by poor lifting habits can be greatly reduced.
How can lifting injure your back?
The complex nature of the spine means that stresses placed on it may injure many different structures:
* The discs which separate the vertebrae (bones) or the ligaments which hold them together can be damaged. The disc is composed of a jelly-like core surrounded by a strong fibrous ring.
* Lifting incorrectly, with the spine bent forward, causes this fluid to be pushed backwards and pressure in the disc increases. If this pressure is great enough, the fibrous ring or its supporting ligaments may tear or rupture.
* Twisting or jarring while lifting or carrying may injure the small (apophyseal) joints, ligaments and discs which guide movement of the back.
Lifting with the spine bent forward will increase the stress on your spine. Other factors which contribute to stress on your spine while lifting include:
* The weight of the load
* How far it is held from your body
* How often and how fast you lift
* How long you hold the weight
Your physical state will also have an effect:
* Weakness in back and stomach muscles can reduce your ability to keep your back in a safe straight position
* Reduced strength in legs and thighs may limit your ability to crouch
* Poor fitness will cause your muscles to fatigue and place stress on your back
TO LIFT CORRECTLY
2. Bend at the knees and at the hips and use the strong muscles of your legs to lift
3. Have a good firm grip on the load
4. Keep the load close to your body
5. Brace your spine and keep your back as straight as possible for the whole lift
6. Make all movements smooth, avoiding jerking or twisting
HOW CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP?
A Physiotherapist is an expert in human movement. Physiotherapists understand how your muscles, bones, joints and ligaments work and how injuries happen. They can:
* Analyse the workplace and show you how to reduce the likelihood of injury
* Teach you how to lift
* Assess your physical ability. The physiotherapist can assess your muscles strength and fitness and advise an appropriate exercise and fitness program
* Treat muscle, joint and ligament injuries using electrotherapy, mobilisation/manipulation, stretching, strengthening exercise programs and other treatments to ensure a speedy recovery from injury.
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