Need A Lift? Know Your Anatomy and Physics!
For many millennia, people have needed to move their stuff from one place to another. The human body has endured the burden of moving much of that stuff by lifting and carrying it with its muscles, bones and connective tissues. Over the course of history, we’ve learned what works and what kind of loads make the body break down. However, each of us needs to learn for ourselves the right techniques to lift properly and avoid injury. Too many of us learn these lessons the hard way.
Whether or not we are students of science, we all have to know some basics about human anatomy and physics. Fortunately, the basics come down to a few simple principles we can understand in relation to our own bodies. These concepts are highlighted in our Safety Shorts by Keenan video, “Lifting in Awkward Places”. Our animated friends, Pete and Jen, explain the safest ways to lift your stuff while keeping your body in one piece.
Avoid lifting at all, if possible. Use a hand truck or cart, when available, to move heavy items. If you must lift it yourself, be sure you gauge how heavy the load is and your capability to handle that weight. Keep the load as close to your body as possible while keeping your back straight by looking straight ahead. Use your legs to do the lifting, not your back.
Even if lifting and moving things around isn’t part of your job routine, nearly all of us have to relocate household items, load groceries and luggage in and out of the car, or pick up our growing children. Remember also that you may find one particular lifting job manageable, yet the effects of doing several lifts in a row can add up. We don’t always realize how much we lift over the course of a 24-hour day!
So, please take heed of the anatomy and physics lessons humankind has accumulated since the dawn of our existence. Use the tools available to lighten the load and employ the right muscles and joints to provide the leverage. Protect the vulnerable structures of your spine and abdomen when lifting. Above all, if something seems too heavy or awkward for you to handle – don’t! Get help from one or more friends or colleagues, or leave it to professionals.