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How many times have you heard someone say, "I can't lift that 'cause I have a back back," or "I threw out my back from lifting something"? One of the biggest back pain myths is that lifting heavy objects surely results in back pain. The reality is that up to 90% of adults feel back pain at some point in their lives, regardless of how much lifting they do. It's just as easy to "throw your back out" while lifting a pencil from the floor as it is while lifting a box of copy paper. It all comes down to mechanics.
Body mechanics have to do with how you position your body in order to perform a task. Using incorrect or unsafe mechanics to do things can become a problem over time, as structures which should be doing a certain job get overworked from doing something they shouldn't be doing, and other structures lose their ability to function at their best because they aren't used enough.
Take, for example, the gardener who bends over for most of the day, carries heavy loads, and gets into all sorts of awkward positions. He may dig holes, rake for hours, and load his lawnmower in and out of the truck numerous times with no problem. But then he bends down to pick that errant weed and BAM! Back pain strikes. It wasn't the weed that did it; all the wear and tear on his spine from using poor mechanics for so long set the stage, and that poor weed was the last straw.
Maintaining a neutral back position while reaching, sitting, and standing and incorporating the use of your legs while keeping your back neutral during bending, lifting, and carrying objects are the best ways to protect your back from injury. Proper body mechanics must be learned. A physical therapist or qualified trainer can help you with this.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|