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One False Move

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By: Trent Soares

The back is involved in almost every move you make, and it only takes one false move to trigger an injury. For example:

Strains can be triggered by overstretching, slouching, and improper lifting. The strain problem is compounded if you are carrying excess body weight-especially around the midsection.

Sprains often result from sudden movements or sudden twisting of the body. With a sprain, soft tissues in the back, such as ligaments and muscles, are wrenched or torn, causing swelling and pain.

Over flexion, or bending too far forward, is another common back problem that results in increased pressure on the cartilage of the spine. Damage to the cartilage, or “disks,” can cause swelling and pain that can last a long time.

Overextension, or bending too far backward, also increases pressure on the spine, resulting in potential injury.

The most important thing you need to know about these injuries is that they’re all preventable. To eliminate back injuries, make sure you understand the three components of back safety: posture, lifting, and fitness.

Key #1: Posture

Maintaining proper posture while working is the first lesson you need to learn about back safety and health.

When you stand, you should:

  • Keep your head vertical and facing the work.
  • Stand straight with ears, shoulders, and hips aligned.
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and weight in balance.

When you sit, you should:

  • Keep your head vertical and facing the work.
  • Sit straight by keeping ears, shoulders, and hips aligned.
  • Keep thighs parallel to the floor, with knees bent about 90 degrees.
  • Rest feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.

Key #2: Safe Lifting

Many back injuries can be traced to improper lifting and carrying. You should use good body mechanics every time you lift, carry, and unload objects.

When you lift, you should:

  • Face the load with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep heels down and turn feet slightly out (Torque).
  • Driving the hips back on a squat vs loading the knees.
  • Use leg and stomach muscles to power the lift–not back muscles.
  • Maintain the back’s natural curves as they lift by keeping your head up.

Key #3: Fitness

Facts about Fitness

The third key to back safety and health is fitness. People who are out-of-shape or overweight are more likely to have back injuries than those whose muscles are toned and whose backs don’t have to support extra pounds. At the minimum spending time to walk or some other physical activity, can help to maintain a healthy weight and toned muscles.

Later this month we will hold an Injury Prevention Seminar. In this seminar we will spend some quality time covering the body mechanics of the knee, and shoulder. More importantly we will cover mobility techniques that will help prevent injuries in the knee and shoulder area. Be on the lookout for more information via social media!