Whether you’re a powerlifter or just starting out - the 7 steps to safely lift
If you’re a powerlifter or lift heavy weights on a regular basis, you are more at risk but this doesn’t mean you can be complacent. At Motion Health practices we see mums, execs, teachers, dog washers, children and yoga teachers who all thought they were somehow exempt from having to learn safe lifting techniques.
Follow these seven steps to safely lift and save your back at the same time:
1. Base of Support
Keep your feet approximately shoulder distance apart. You’ll have better balance if you extend one foot slightly in front of the other and point your feet in the direction you are moving.
2. Bend from your hips and knees
Use your stronger muscles like buttocks, thighs and calves, not your weaker back muscles to bear most of the load.
3. Grip the load firmly
Having a good hold on your load reduces the chance that you will have to juggle, shift, or catch a slipping weight. And careful - holding wriggling children or enthusiastic pets can be particularly difficult and increases the risk of injury.
4. Hold the load close to your body
The further the load from your body, the more the load is magnified as it gets farther away from your centre of gravity. The leverage required to maintain the lift, when the load is at a distance, creates an exponential strain on your back muscles, so make sure to hold heavy items closer to your torso.
5. Don’t lift and twist or side bend
The awkward ‘corkscrew’ motion of twisting your body, shoulders, arms, knees, or ankles — combined with the weight of a heavy load — could create a tear in your musculoskeletal tissues. So make sure to hold heavy items directly in front of you.
6. Control your posture
Align your posture and spinal position before you lift to ensure you stay safe. A semi-squat position might also be a more comfortable and effective position to lift heavy weight with, rather than the traditional ‘straight back’. It also helps if you keep your feet flat on the ground throughout the lift for more stability.
7. Activate your core stability muscles immediately prior and during the lift
Just prior to the lift, concentrate on activating the core stabilising muscles in the lower back, abdomen, pelvic floor, inner knee and neck/shoulder regions to protect yourself.