by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

What a wonderful season we have had. The weather has been spectacular and the heat and humidity is here. Many people head elsewhere to another home yet more and more people are becoming Naples’ residents. Either way, spring-cleaning seems that it cannot be avoided.

We all have either closets to empty, garages to clean out, or bags and cars to pack. Just how should one do this without injuring themselves?

As we age, safety is key yet when we feel good we do not always seem to do things correctly.

How should one lift objects from various heights? Should one push or pull something when it needs to be moved? What about placing an object on a high shelf? There are definitely safer ways to do things so that our spine, shoulders, and knees do not take the brunt of a spring-cleaning.

The normal healthy spine has an “S” shape to it. Motion occurs and is dependent on the facet joints (two above and two below) that glide and slide to both allow motion and to guide motion with certain biomechanics. The health of a disc is also responsible for the mobility at each segment of the spine. Both the discs and the facet joints undergo loading from various rest positions like sitting to increased loading with bending, lifting, pushing and pulling.

The “S” shape helps to spread the loads out over various spinal levels to avoid excess loading on one area. Unfortunately most people have lifted or sat wrong and have experienced at least minor irritations to these areas. Wear and tear and bad habits over the years change this “S” curve. Many times the neck straightens out more and the low back can flatten as well.

Actually many people go into a pelvic tilt to lift. This is where a little knowledge is dangerous. This variation loads the low back facet joints and discs. This increased compression over time causes facet joints to break down and discs to weaken. It is a lot more complicated that this explanation but suffice it to say that keeping your back in good positions where the muscles can assist in a supportive role to stabilize the joints is a good choice to follow.

Some areas get tighter while other muscles that support the spine get weaker. When lifting an object it is important to secure your spine.

The key is to create a vice around your core area so that the discs and joints do not have to carry the full load without some support from the surrounding core muscles.

When lifting, keep in mind that you do not want to reverse your low back position to flat back. Attempt to maintain a normal arch but then tighten your abdominal where your navel approximates your back and then try and lift with your hips and legs. Depending upon any past injuries you might need to vary this slightly. If you lift and experience any pain, stop and regroup to assess your positioning and try again. Always keep the object close to your navel area because this is in the vicinity of the center of gravity of the body. If the lift is away from the body the center of gravity shifts and more pressure is placed on the back structures.

If an object is on a back shelf or in the trunk of a vehicle, attempt to slide the object toward you before ever attempting to lift it. Try and use your body to pull it and do not pull it by arching the back and leaning backwards. If there is an object that you must push, try and lower yourself toward the center of gravity or the object by bending your legs. You can then exert force easier at the center of gravity. The core still needs to be active to support spinal positioning.

Sadly, many people have to vary normal posturing somewhat because of arthritic hips and knees. Finding the right position to do any of these spring-cleaning activities is pertinent to continued health of your joints. Do not do things that are uncomfortable or cause pain; you may be causing more damage to yourself.

Do your spring-cleaning but not at your body’s expense. Work smart and ask for help if something is too big for you to handle yourself. Remember even if you are young, proper execution of body mechanics is key to your longevity.

Here’s to Your Health!
For further information you may call Paula at 239.263.9348 or email paulaallia@mac.com.

Fitness Together
335 14th Ave South
Naples, FL 34102

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.