You perform a wide variety of tasks at work throughout the day, but have you ever noticed just how many times you bend forward during the day? Many jobs that require manual labour have employees repetitively picking up light objects, crouching, or bending over to perform their tasks. Though these seem harmless at the time, with poor posture habitual movements can become detrimental to the back.
Many people believe that lifting heavy objects (even if only once in a while) is what causes back problems, but that’s simply not the case. Lifting light objects on a regular basis with poor posture can be more damaging than workers realize. The reason for this is because many people forget that the weight they are lifting is not limited to the object they’ve picked up, but there is extra weight found in the “Hidden Load”.
What is Hidden Load?
The added weight of your upper body is known as a “Hidden Load.” When lifting even a light object with poor posture, the weight of supporting your upper body unknowingly adds unnecessary strain to your back and can lead to discomfort and even injury over time.
For more information, click on this link for a short video on the Hidden Load.
What is Poor Lifting Posture?
Poor lifting posture can take many forms but the most common is a rag doll-like stance. Many people have developed a poor habit of arching through their back, and keeping their feet close together when they bend to pick something up. This causes your back to support the entire weight of your upper body along with the object you are intending to pick up. Bending with your spine poorly aligned this way may lead to musculoskeletal injuries if done repetitively over a long period of time.
What is Good Lifting Posture?
There are many ways that workers can fix their posture while lifting or bending over to avoid developing back problems. Here are 3 ways we recommend when lifting light to medium weight objects:
1. Hip Hinge
Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Anchor your shoulders while keeping your chest up and a fist width between your chin and the top of your chest. Bend your knees 20 degrees, send your buttocks back and hinge forward from the hips until you feel your hamstrings stretch. Reach your arms down to hold the object you are required to lift while maintaining a shoulders anchored position. To lift, push up from the ground with your leg and gluteal muscles keeping your spine neutral.
2. Stride Stance
Take a wide base of support by spreading your legs into a lunge position that lowers your body’s centre closer to the ground. Place your matching hand onto the leading knee as you slightly hinge forward at the hips and pick up the object with your other hand. From here you are able to continue walking forward by engaging your leading leg and supporting your upper body with the hand placed on your knee.
3. Golfer’s Lift
Plant one foot firmly on the ground, hinge forward at the hips and swing your other foot straight behind you into the air. Pick the object up with your hand and as you lift, bring your back foot back to the ground simultaneously.
Interested in Learning More?
Check out our MoveSafe programs! Our programs are not just about sports medicine principles or physio exercises, they are about improving quality of life. A significant number of individuals will have back injuries in their lifetime. We want to ensure people are moving safely and using good ergonomic principles in the workplace and at home so that their bodies can withstand the test of time and they can continue to enjoy physical activity throughout their life!