When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back

Techniques used by professional movers can help reduce risk of serious injury

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SATURDAY, May 30, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Following the example of professional movers can help you reduce the risk of injury the next time you move, says a new study that included 20 men who carried a load on a treadmill so that researchers could assess the effects on the shoulders, neck, back, abdomen and forearms.

The study found that carrying loads on your back rather than against the abdomen may reduce effort and lower the risk of injury. It also found that using assistive load carriage devices can improve grip and lessen the strain on the back and forearms.

"We found that professional movers often carry loads against their backs, mainly because they found it to be more practical and less painful. However, more research is needed with professional movers or warehouse workers to see if the back carry technique reduces the risk of back injury without increasing the risks of other injuries," study co-author Joan M. Stevenson, said in an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) news release. The study was presented this week at the ACSM annual meeting in Seattle.

She and her colleagues found that movers who use the back carry technique feel they lift more safely, reduce their risk of tripping, and are less likely to suffer back pain.

"This technique may be very important when it comes to injury prevention, whether it is on a professional mover or just a college student moving to an apartment. We know that some people do not have the shoulder flexibility or grip strength to perform this technique, so an assistive lifting device can be valuable," Stevenson said.

Before moving, you should gently warm up your body with low-intensity muscle stretching for about 10 to 15 minutes, the ACSM said. It also recommends regular stretching sessions two to three times a week to improve flexibility and other aspects of health.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health have more about avoiding back pain.

SOURCE: American College of Sports Medicine, news release, May 27, 2009

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