Have you ever had back pain that was at first, just annoying, but later became so intense that you could barely breathe? Many of my friends and co-workers have constant and chronic back pain. I was surprised by how completely debilitating it can be, and the effect pain has on the quality of life.
When my mom, all 96 pounds of her, became seriously ill, and was no longer ambulatory, I had to lift her and change her sitting position about every 20 minutes, to keep her comfortable. Trying to use my intellect, as well as my muscles, I read up on the proper procedures before initiating this process. I bent my knees and used a rolling technique to pull her forward and then upright a bit, to adjust her spine and reposition her. I congratulated myself, when she was all settled in, and I was still upright. Even small amounts of weight can feel like mountains, under these circumstances. I also decided to get in contact with some of the best spine surgeon in Austin and get their recommendation on the matter.
How that Worked
After a few weeks of this process, my lower back began to ache off and on for short periods of time. Then mom’s condition deteriorated and I had to lift her in and out of bed without sliding her tender skin on the bed sheets. Her bed was nearly as high as my waist, so this process was very difficult. I began to experience extreme pain in my back. My brain and my back were telling me that I was using muscles in my back, in all the wrong ways. I was not concentrating on how I moved, only on my mom, and her discomfort.
The Real Right Way to Lift
I made a list of moves that annoy and aggravate my lower back and compared it to the instructions I was given by my doctor, in order for my back to heal. Sharing it now, might be a way to help you keep from having these problems.
- Don’t bend from the waist to pick up objects that are on the floor. Bend your knees and hips.
- When lifting, make a smooth movement. Do not try to suddenly pull upward quickly with jerking movements that cause injury.
- Never reach, bend and twist at the same time. When do you do this? One example would be: when helping the children get out of the tub while trying to get the towel around them, and dry them off. These movements are very damaging to the back.
- When you must lift something heavy: know where you are going to put it, get as close to it as you can, put your feet about as far apart as the width of your shoulders, bend your knees and let your leg muscles do the lifting.
- When you set heavy items down, be sure to look straight ahead, bend your knees and squat while you slowly lower yourself and the item to the floor.
- Try to avoid reaching for anything that is up higher than your own height. Lifting your head back and raising your chin, makes your spine compress, and this can cause serious injury. Use a foot stool or small ladder, or better yet, ask for help.
- When you do lift things, use good posture and tighten your stomach muscles for extra support for your back and spine.
You Can Lift Just So Much
Excessive physical demands, like the lifting that I had not prepared myself to do correctly, can produce debilitating pain. The human skeleton is designed in a way that allows the lower back to carry a certain amount of weight efficiently. However, if you twist and stretch at the same time you can, and I did, tear tendons and ligaments in and around the spinal column. Often, these sprains or tears can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, and they will heal without surgery, if you’re lucky. Don’t take unnecessary risks with your back and spine. If you must do heavy lifting, get information and apply it, or better yet, get more help and stay well.