By: Travis Johnson, Chiropractic Intern
A common position many Americans find themselves at work is in the sitting position: either in a chair or bending over to pick something up. Due to the demand of 40-hour work weeks, we find ourselves in these positions for a majority of the waking hours of our lives. Therefore, one of the greatest actions we can do for ourselves is to take charge of our lifting posture, whether we’re lifting an object or simply repositioning our own body weight.
Our spine is the most important structure that absorbs load throughout the body. Determining how much force we put upon the spine and that force’s location can prevent many injuries. The key to injury prevention lies in using our center of gravity. Maintaining load distribution closer to hinge points of our joints during lifting reduces the amount of stress on our muscle, ligament, and bones. Another important factor is the position of the spine. A vertical spine has much more lifting potential than a spine angled closer to horizontal. A horizontally positioned (bent over) spine requires much more weight to lift based on gravity. So how do we lift objects or transition from seated to standing?
First we need to learn proper squatting biomechanics. Begin with your heels flat on the ground, torso in a vertical position, and head straight. Imagine deadlifting everything we pick up and squatting every time we sit down. Key muscles you should be utilizing: Core, glutes, quads, and erectors.
Don’t forget to breathe! Holding your breath as you lift a heavy load does allow you to lift more weight, but only in compensation for risk of injury. Holding your breath or increased intrathecal pressure raises blood pressure, provides risk for hernias, creates a hypoxia state, and inhibits core contraction.
Plan of Action: Core stability is essential to keep the spine neutral and vertical without
too much strain on our low back. Education, practice, implementation are the next steps to obtaining proper lifting techniques. A fun exercise that improves squatting mobility (outside of squats) is Leap Frog!
If you have additional questions regarding proper lifting techniques or sitting posture and ergonomics, please ask one of our Chiropractors or movement specialists in the Functional Fitness Center! At Woodbury Spine, we have a corporate wellness program that offers complimentary posture analysis and lunch and learns on this and other topics! Stop by the front desk or send us an email to inquire about scheduling for your office team today!