With the holidays just around the corner, each of us will be busy and on the go. The last thing on our minds is safe body mechanics while decorating our home or lifting a heavy package, but they’re important! Here are 3 tips to help you protect your body as you lift, bend, and maneuver this holiday season:
1. When picking up that heavy package off the floor remember to:
- Separate your feet for a wide stance
- Stand close to the package
- Bend at the knees and hips as you go towards the floor. Do not keep your legs straight and round your back forward, as this will lead to injury.
- Keep your back in a neutral position by keeping the lower back slightly arched
- Tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs
- As you pick up the package, bring it towards your body and hold it close to you (this protects your back)
- Do not twist your back as you move the package. Face the package as you lift it, and then move your whole body around to face the spot where you are placing the package back down.
2. Keep reaching overhead to a minimum:
- When decorating the top of a tree, mantle, or doorway, use a step stool so that you are working at face level
- Do not work with your arms overhead for long stretches of time. This puts too much strain on the shoulder, and tendonitis can develop.
3. If it looks like it MIGHT be too heavy, IT IS! Use the buddy system or ask someone with more upper body strength to lift the package. Don’t risk hurting yourself. Have a safe and injury-free holiday season!
Liz Penn is a Physical Therapist and Certified Integrated Manual Therapist at the Joint Mobility Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.