Lifting is a functional task – you can’t get by in life without it. Whether it be lifting groceries, lifting a couch, lifting a child or lifting a barbell… everyone needs to pick things up and put them down.
Unfortunately, lifting is also a common way to injure your back. It could be a landscaper injured on the job, or an office worker putting their laptop bag in the car.
So how do we best protect our back?
Where possible, lifting with a neutral and braced spine is the best method. A neutral spine is not arched backward, nor curved forward. Bracing is achieved by taking a breath and holding it, bracing as if you were going to be hit in the stomach. Depending on the weight involved, you may need more or less intense bracing. Lifting your bag into the trunk for a getaway? Not too much bracing required. Lifting a lawnmower into the ute? Brace hard!
Hinging at the hip is another large part of protecting our back, as this allows us to use our hips to get to something on the ground, as well as letting our legs and hips contribute to picking something up – rather than relying solely on the lower back.
Last but not least, a strong back is a healthy back. There are many different exercises to strengthen the back, however the best bang for your buck would be the deadlift. The deadlift involved picking up a barbell from the ground, to full hip extension, and then back down again. It is obviously much easier to grip a barbell than a fridge, for example, but the principles remain the same and the strength/practice of lifting you acquire deadlifting will serve you well when picking up any number of objects life throws at you.