6 Ways to Save Your Back On (And After) Moving Day
So, you think you can just ignite your inner beast mode and start moving heavy boxes and furniture? Not so fast. Improper lifting is a high-risk factor for back injury. Luckily, we have some tips from a chiropractor to help save your back from injury.
Give Your Back Some Love Before You Begin
If you instantly spring into action, your back may revolt. These static stretches, suggested by Dr. Daniel Pozarnsky of Balance Chiropractic & Rehab, will help improve your flexibility before you begin lifting. Hold for 45 seconds to one minute, and perform 2-3 reps of each.
Forward bend: Place both hands on a countertop, tuck your chin to your chest, and place both feet slightly in front of your hips. Push your hips out and hold.
Spinal twist: Start lying on your back, turn your head and arm one way and then bring your knees and hips the opposite direction. To increase the intensity of this stretch, apply pressure to the top knee and lower the leg towards the floor.
Piriformis stretch: The piriformis is a small muscle located deep behind the gluteus maximus. Start lying on your back, turn your head and arm one way, and then bring your knees and hips the opposite direction. To increase the intensity of this stretch, apply pressure to the top of the knee and lower the leg towards the floor.
Glute stretch: Lying on your back, place one hand on your ankle and one hand on the knee. First, pull your ankle towards your opposite shoulder, and then pull your knee towards your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch.
Yes, bending at the knees to lift is solid advice, but if that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing the critical element to saving your back, Dr.Pozarnsky says. We need to engage our gluteus muscles first. “Hinging at the hips allows you to engage your gluteus muscles, one of the strongest muscle groups in the body, and that actually stabilizes your back,” Dr. Pozarnsky says. To do this, bend at the knees and push your butt/hips backward, then squat down and pick up whatever you need to carry. “Once you pick up the object you are trying to carry, contract your abdominal region and do not overextend your back,” Dr. Pozarnsky advises. This is where most lifting-related back injuries occur.
You don’t have to go all out beast mode on moving day. It helps to utilize a dolly (also known as a hand truck), moving straps and furniture sliders. You can rent these from most equipment rental or moving companies, or purchase them on Amazon.com. These tools make moving easier, but you’ll still need to move smartly. “Don’t yank on the dolly when you’re trying to get an appliance off the ground. Aggressive and jolting movements increase the risk for pulling a muscle or straining something,” Dr. Poznarsky says. And if moving a 300-pound armoire or heavy appliances seems a little too daunting—even with the proper equipment—and you decide to go with the pros, here’s everything you need to know before hiring furniture movers.
Save the Twist for Chuck Berry
There are occasions when your body will naturally want to twist or bend to navigate an obstacle or tight corner. Don’t do it. Instead, move your feet together with the load. Keep your elbows tucked in and the object you’re carrying close to your waist to promote a better center of gravity and stability. Moving on a rainy day is slippery. Check out this rainy day backup plan to save your back and new floors.
Slow Is Smooth, Smooth Is Fast
The Special Forces Ops team live by “slow is smooth, smooth is fast,” and you can make it your mantra, too. “What this means is that if you’re methodical with your actions, even if that appears slower than an alternative, in the long run, you’ll still succeed and be more efficient because your methodical approach is calculated and deliberate,” Dr. Pozarnsky explains.
My Aching Back!
So, even after all the tips, you managed to wrench your back. Should you ice it or apply heat? Dr. Poznarsky says it depends on your pain level. If you’d classify your pain level at 6 of 10 or higher, he recommends ice. For anything less, apply heat for stiffness and soreness. If your pain doesn’t resolve after three days with ice or heat, give your chiropractor a call.