Many people consistently lift with their backs. If they have to bend over to pick up a heavy object, that simply feels like the most natural way to do it. They bend at the waist, slip their hands under the edges of the object, and then just try to straighten up again.
As natural as this may feel, it’s actually one of the most dangerous things you can do on the job. It can lead to severe back injuries. What you actually want to do is lift with your legs.
The advantages of relying on your legs for heavy lifting
One of the main advantages of lifting with your legs is that your back, core and spinal column all remain straight and stable. The human body is has evolved to hold weight in this upward position, so this is the strongest your back can be. That’s not to say an injury cannot happen, but it is least likely in this position due to the design of the musculoskeletal system.
When you lift with your back, you intentionally shift everything out of alignment. The force on your back now pulls your vertebrae downward, away from each other, rather than allowing them to stay stacked and support each other.
Furthermore, the muscles in your legs are much stronger than those in your back, even if you have not done any weight training. You can simply lift more if you crouch and use your legs to press back into a standing position. It may feel awkward to start, but it’s a better way to lift and you’ll get the hang of it in time.
Understanding your rights when you’re injured at work
Of course, you can get injured on the job doing physical labor, even when you do it properly. If so, you need to know how to apply for workers’ compensation. If you’re struggling to get your claim approved and the benefits you need, an attorney can help.