Lifting – or trying to lift – heavy objects is a major cause of trouble in the joints of your spine, hips and knees. Follow these tips to help protect your joints.
- There is no acceptable definition of heavy. Any load can damage your joints if you lift in the wrong way. Always lift carefully and always think before lifting.
- Whenever possible work out a way to minimise the effort required. If there is a mechanical hoist available – use it. If you can use a trolley or barrow then use one. Unload cupboards and take heavy furniture apart whenever possible. If there is nothing on the object to hold onto then use a sling or put a strong rope underneath it. If there is help available then wait until it arrives. Plan to lift and move heavy objects in gentle, easy stages. Stop if you feel tired – that is when accidents happen.
- If you have to move a heavy weight on a trolley remember that pulling usually puts less strain on your body than pushing.
- Make sure that you wear shoes with non-slip soles. Do not try lifting or carrying heavy weights while wearing high heels. If possible wear shoes that provide proper protection in case something heavy drops on your feet. And make sure that you use gloves that provide a good grip. Don’t try lifting in unusually loose or unusually tight clothing, in clothing that restricts your movements in any way or in clothing that might ‘catch’ on a protrusion.
- Stand close to the object you want to lift with your feet apart to improve your balance. Put one foot slightly ahead of the other.
- Bend your hips and your knees and keep your back straight and your shoulders level and in line with your pelvis. Pick up the object you are lifting with the whole of your hand (rather than just your fingertips) and keep your arms close in to your body. A weight held out at arms’ length puts ten times the strain on your spine as a weight held close to your body.
- Brace your abdominal muscles and then lift the object by straightening your knees. If you are trying to lift something very heavy halve the stress by lifting one end first. If you have to turn move your feet as well as your body and make sure that you do not twist or bend your body while lifting.
- Try to lift smoothly. And remember to keep the object close to your body all the time that you are holding it.
- If the object is too heavy for you put it down (safely) straight away. Don’t drop it on any toes in the neighbourhood.
- When putting a load down lower yourself by bending your knees and squatting. Do not bend your back when putting something down – this is when injuries often happen.
From How to Conquer Arthritis by Vernon Coleman. How to Conquer Arthritis by Vernon Coleman is available as a hardcover book, a paperback and an eBook.