There are many opinions on proper lifting techniques. Lifting stress is not just isolated to the lower back but encompasses multiple body structures. When lifting an object from the floor, we always associate proper lifting as bending at the knees, never twisting, keeping object as close to our torso as possible to avoid stress to the lower back. However, the most important aspect to proper lifting is to NEVER LOOK DOWN. Head and neck posture is critical!!!
When lifting, our lower back is stressed, but in fact does not perform the actual lifting activity. The true aspect of lifting takes place in the lower cervical spine, upper thoracic spine, and shoulders girdles. Improper ergonomics of these body parts when lifting then places undo stress to the lower back regions with the resulting lower back injury.
The Olympic weight lifter is able to lift the excessive weight because he presents on stage, places himself in the appropriate lifting position, however, upon initiation of the lifting activity he cocks his head back (looking up), and therefore stabilizes and strengthens his cervical spine muscles and ligaments as well as stabilizes and strengthens the muscles and ligaments of the lumbosacral region allowing him to perform the lifting activity. The action of looking up and locking the head in the hyper-extended position allows him to bend his knees, squat, lift the weight with an extremely strong lower back. By locking the spine as discussed above we are placing the cervical and lumbar vertebra in a normal lordotic C shaped curvature, allowing proper stress distribution to the spinal disc material and joints of the vertebra. If the weight lifter were to look down at the object he would/could sustain a very serious spine injury because he has changed the biomechanical load on the disc material and spinal joints.
It is my opinion that injury can encompass both the lumbosacral region but the cervical spine, upper thoracic, and shoulder girdles as well. By locking the spine as discussed above we are placing the vertebra in a normal lordotic curvature, allowing proper stress distribution to the spinal disc material and joints of the vertebra allowing lifting without injury.
So……The Keys to Proper Lifting:
· NEVER LOOK DOWN. Always cock the head back and lock the cervical spine into the hyper-extension position thereby strengthening the cervical, thoracic and shoulder girdles, and ultimately strengthening the lumbosacral region. · Bend at the knees · Never twist or rotate at the waist when lifting · Keep objects as close to the torso as possible · Be aware/familiar with the object to be lifted