A Healthy Back
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Neutral spine is a term used when your back and, therefore, your spinal column, is in its natural, neutral posture. First, what is good posture?
Three Natural Curves
In order to assure the spine is working efficiently, we must keep the bones in the best alignment. Otherwise, the stress and forces are magnified. Ligaments will be overstretched and muscles fatigued causing pain and possible injury. In any activity, these three curves should be maintained but not increased. The head should be above the shoulders so that the ear is inline with the top of the shoulder. The top of the shoulder should be over the hips.
Lifting is strenuous— it requires proper training and technique. By lifting with your large, strong leg muscles instead of the small muscles of the back, you can prevent back injuries and reduce low back pain.
Five Steps to Follow When Lifting an Object
- GET CLOSE TO THE LOAD. Get as close to the load as possible—as if you’re hugging
the object. Having the object close to your body put less force on your low back.
- MAINTAIN YOUR CURVES. Keep yourself in an upright position while squatting to pick up
- TIGHTEN YOUR STOMACH MUSCLES. Tightening the stomach helps support the spine. Don't hold your breath while tightening the muscles.
- LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS. Your legs are the strongest muscles in your body— so use them.
- PIVOT AND DON'T TWIST. Turn with your feet, not your back. It isn't built for twisting from side to side.
Large or Heavy Loads
If a load is too heavy to lift alone, ask for help. Pick one person to coach the lift — this way you lift and lower at the same time.
If a load is above your shoulders, use a step stool to elevate yourself until the load is at least chest level—preferably waist height. Pull the object close to your body and then lift. Remember to maintain your curves —use your arms and legs to do the work.
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