Time for a quick refresher.  Most people intuitively know the things this article will include, but knowing something and putting it into daily practice are two different things.  The most common cause of acute back pain is a sudden injury to the ligaments and muscles that support your back. The most common way those ligaments and muscles can sustain injury is via improper lifting of heavy objects.

If you’ve already hurt your back, then it’s time to focus on the cure, rather than prevention.  Prevention will be crucial once you’re healed, so that you don’t get hurt again.  In terms of the cure, there are a few simple things you can do, including:

  • Gentle, low impact exercise
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Alternating ice and heat (with ice being the most beneficial here)
  • And over the counter pain medications to help reduce swelling and inflammation

Once you’re feeling better, let’s review the following proper way to lift heavy objects  to minimize your risks:

  • Assess the object in question. Is it ripped, torn, or weakened in some way, such that when you try to lift it, it will be difficult to grasp, or begin to fall apart, causing you to twist unexpectedly?  If so, find an alternative to lifting it.
  • Test before committing. Give the object a hearty shove to gauge its weight.  Is it something you can conceivably lift?  If not, don’t even try without help.
  • Plan your route – Don’t lift something heavy without knowing where you’re going to take it, and ultimately, where you’re going to set it down. Be sure that the path between those two points is clear of obstructions so you don’t have to do any fancy footwork en route.
  • Lift with your legs, more than your back. Start in a squatting position and allow your powerful leg muscles to bear the brunt of the lift.  Your back should play only a supporting role.

If you do those four things, then you’re much less likely to suffer an injury while lifting, and your back will thank you for it!