Whether you’re lugging a suitcase to the airport (getting it off the baggage carousel is usually a killer) or moving something heavy around at home, it’s easy to pull or strain a muscle or put your back out. Here are some tips and techniques for lifting and carrying luggage and other heavy objects from the BUPA team.
First thing’s first: Before you pick anything up, think about the following:
- How long will you be holding the item? Do you need to factor in a rest to readjust your grip?
- Where are you placing the heavy object? Clear the way of any obstacles before you start.
- Can you use a trolley or other aid to help you, or ask another person to help you with lifting heavy luggage?
- Wear clothes that you can move easily in, and also wear sensible footwear.
- Don’t rush – move slowly and pay attention to what you’re doing.
- Can you really lift this up? Just because you can lift it, doesn’t mean it’s safe to do so. Don’t pick anything up that’s too difficult to easily manage.
Adopting a good posture before you lift anything is important.
- Stand straight with your chin tucked slightly in and your shoulders back and down.
- Relax your knees and let your spine curve naturally.
- Your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles should all be in one line.
- Stand with your feet apart and one of them forward slightly so you can stay balanced.
Hold it close
When you’re picking something up, draw your belly button gently in towards your spine. This engages your deep, supportive abdominal (tummy) muscles. It’s best to hold the object close to your body and hold the heaviest part of it to your body too.
Once you’ve lifted the object, avoid leaning to the side or twisting your back. Keep your shoulders level and in line with your hips. Move your feet rather than your body. Face forward with your head up. Keep your movements smooth – any sudden jerking movements can result in injury.
Adjust as you need
If you need to, put the object down and then repeat the steps again to pick it back up. If it’s too heavy, reassess whether it’s something you can safely lift.
Putting objects down safely
To put objects down safely, reverse the picking-up process. Keep the object close to your body, engage your tummy muscles and bend your knees. Again, try to avoid twisting and, if possible, place the object on a surface at waist height, like a table.
- When buying a suitcase for travel, don’t get one that’s already heavy when it’s empty. Also, wheels and an extendable handle mean you can pull the case rather than lift it. Use two rather than one heavy suitcase if possible.
- With backpacks, look for ones with padded straps. Wear it on both shoulders, not just one.
- When packing a bag, put heavier items in the centre and at the bottom of your bag.
- If you’ve got a shoulder bag, don’t carry it on the same shoulder for long amounts of time – keep switching.
- When shopping, unload your goods in several trips – don’t carry all the bags into the house in one go. Carry one bag in each hand to distribute the weight evenly.
- Before picking up your child, prepare your body first and get into a good posture – bend your back, hips and knees forward slightly and engage your tummy muscles. Hold your child close to your body and use your leg strength to return to standing.
Adding some strengthening exercises into your fitness routine can be a good way of making all of these things easier to achieve.
This article was brought to you by Bupa Global.