by Kimberly Allen RN
With fall basically upon us and winter coming right behind it many people especially those living in the northern climates are getting their wood made and in. Then they’ll be raking leaves and getting ready for snow. Many will also have something else in common, they’ll have sore backs. Some will even end up either at their Dr’s office or in their local ER. According to some experts 60-80% of the people in the will sustain some type of back injury in their lifetime. The estimated cost of those back injuries with Dr appointments and treatment is over $30 billion.
Most people train or pull the muscles in their back because they’re in a hurry and their movements get careless, twisting when they know they shouldn’t. However, the use of proper body mechanics can significantly reduce your risk of getting a back injury. What are body mechanics? body mechanics is how your body moves including the way you stand, sit, bend, and lift or push and pull even reaching. Using proper body mechanics refers to using the proper muscle groups to perform a task with minimal potential for injury. The muscles in our back and spine have significant roles in supporting our body’s and need to be protected, especially the spine. Your spine is responsible for thousands of mechanical and postural changes every day. Most involve sitting, standing and lifting whether you work in an office or construction and everything in between.
The most common cause of back injury is lifting objects that are too heavy and doing it improperly. Some basic rules to remember when lifting can significantly improve your body mechanics and reduce your risk of injury.
1. Always lift with your legs, not your back. The muscles in your legs are stronger and able to support more weight.
2. Make sure you have a good support base when you stand by keeping your feet approximately 12 inches apart.
3. All heavy objects should be kept close to your body, especially when carrying them and remember to use both hands as using only one hand can cause the weight to shift straining the muscles in your back.
4. Always squat bending at the knees not the waist and keep your back straight.
5. Always stand on firm ground or floor, do not stand on the wood pile while trying to move other logs.
6. When ever possible push instead of pull
Another frequent cause of back injuries is reaching, especially from overhead. When reaching for objects that are overhead never stand on your tip toes. Always use a wide based stool and get closer to the object you’re reaching for, you’ll have better control especially if it’s a heavy object. There are many other things you should consider to prevent injury as well like avoid twisting at the waist, especially if you are holding something heavy as it can strain your back muscles. If you need to turn rotate your whole body at the same time. Remember to keep your hips and feet aligned at all times. Most importantly know your limits. do not move or attempt to move objects that you know are too heavy. Ask for help. You can either ask for help before you injure your back or after, but trust me before is always better.
Learning and practicing the principles of good body mechanics can significantly reduce your risk of back injury. Recovering from a back injury can be a long and costly process both in medical expenses and loss of work. Remember never take advantage of your back it’s as old as you are and you are going to need it to be able to perform the thousands of movements that you ask of it every day for the rest of your life.