Are you doing heavy lifting and suffering from back pains? Back pain is one of the most common complaints in chiropractic clinics and orthopaedic physicians because there are various activities that can really lead to back problems. Back pains can be due to direct trauma, prolonged sitting, poor posture and often, heavy lifting.
We all know the fact that heavy lifting such as occupational related heavy lifting and weight lifting can lead to back pains, but how does heavy lifting exactly cause back pain? Here, we will analyse how lifting heavy weight can actually lead to back problems.
The Mechanisms of Heavy Lifting and Back Pains
When we lift, we usually need the help of our base of support, which are the feet. When the feet are stable enough and strong, we are able to lift minimal weights. The hip, which is the center of gravity is also used during lifting because it acts to stabilize the body and prevent being out of balance. However, when we lift heavy objects, the feet and hips are unable to stabilize the body making other parts of the musculoskeletal system work in order to lift the weight efficiently. In this line, the most common muscles that participate in heavy lifting are the back muscles. The back also plays an important role during lifting because without the strong back muscles to support the heavy object, the hips and feet may not be able to support the overall weight. In this line, the back muscles may be injured, which can yield to back pains.
There are two common back injuries that can be experienced while lifting weight: a muscle strain and a muscle sprain. Muscle strains are the over-stretching of muscles that cause muscle fiber damage. A muscle strain is commonly known as a pulled muscle that usually causes the muscles to become sore and painful. A muscle strain on the other hand, is the stretching and tearing of the ligaments that connect the muscles to the bones. During heavy lifting, ligaments on the back may be torn leading to back pains. A torn ligament will usually put strain on the surrounding muscles leading to muscle spasms. These muscle spasms also cause significant inflammation that contributes to moderate to severe back pains.
Whether an injury is a muscle sprain or a lumbar strain, what is important is to prevent and manage these injuries efficiently to prevent significant back discomforts. Prevention of back pains starts primarily from avoiding heavy lifting. As much as possible, the body should be given adequate time to rest in between lifts in order to prevent prolonged muscle sprains and strains. Prevention also involves proper use of body mechanics in order to limit the injury to the back. The following preventive measures are necessary when lifting heavy objects is inevitable:
• Never bend at your waist when aiming to pick a heavy object on the ground.
When picking heavy objects to be lifted, never bend at your waists, instead, bend at your knees. Use your feet to kick off and lift the heavy object instead of bending at the waist and using the back to lift it.
• Lift objects with your arms close to the sides of the body instead of putting the weight against your shoulders.
Many workers place the heavy load on their shoulders and back while lifting. If it can be lifted by a person, lift with the hands close to the sides of the body to distribute the weight evenly. If lifting is impossible, make use of a trolley and never use your body to lift it.
Back pains are highly preventable and only need good ergonomics to prevent back injuries. If you have been experiencing back pains, it is best to visit your chiropractor for appropriate managements.