Accessibility View Close toolbar

Heavy Lifting

All of us who’ve experienced a back injury of one sort or another have been told at some point to “avoid heavy lifting.” That type of advice appears to be a no-brainer or at least redundant, as no one whose back is hurting is going to try to pick up an air conditioner or even a 100-foot reel of garden hose. In this context, it’s important to remember the words of Shakespeare’s Cassius: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves”. The problem isn’t the heavy lifting, as such. The real problem is in us, that is, in our overall level of conditioning or physical fitness.

Most back injuries don’t occur as a result of heavy lifting, but rather are caused by a seemingly innocuous event such as bending over in the shower to retrieve a bar of soap that has fallen to the floor. Other likely pain-producing scenarios are bending over to place a bag of groceries in the trunk of a car bending over to tie a loose shoelace. None of these circumstances involved lifting extraordinary weight. Rather, the common elements are lack of flexibility and lack of appropriate muscle tone and strength to support the weight of your body in a forward flexed position.

The problem isn’t lack of big muscles. Picking up a bar of soap or positioning a 15-pound grocery bag doesn’t require bulging biceps or massive lats. The problem is lack of conditioning. Most of us no longer do actual physical work on a regular basis. We spend the large majority of our day sitting, either working, reading, or watching entertainment on television or other devices. The result of such lack of activity is twofold. Muscles lose strength and muscle fibers are replaced by fat. Additionally, tendons and ligaments contract and become tight, losing their necessary composition of elastic fibers. The functional loss associated with these physiological changes is profound. We experience these change every time we feel a twinge, or worse, in our backs.

The fix is easy and primarily focuses on building up core muscle strength.1,2 Core training is directed toward your deep abdominal muscles. The main such muscle is the transverses abdominis, which surrounds your entire waist, protecting and supporting your lower back. You can think of this critically important structure as your internal weight belt. Activation of the core muscles is required for all effective physical activity.3 Without this essential foundation, any minor attempt at work, even bending over to pick up a pencil, can lead to disaster in the form of excruciating back pain.

Core training includes exercises such as the scorpion, lying windmill with bent legs, pushups, squats, and the plank. Many good books and numerous online videos are available to provide instruction in the performance of core exercises. Your chiropractor is experienced in rehabilitative exercise and will help guide you to the training methods that are best for you.

1Inani SB, Selkar SP: Effect of core stabilization exercises versus conventional exercises on pain and functional status in patients with non-specific low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. J Back Musculoskel Rehabil 26(1):37-43, 2014

2Brumitt J, et al: Core stabilization exercise prescription, part 2: a systematic review of motor control and general (global) exercise rehabilitation approaches for patients with low back pain. Sports Health 5(6):510-3, 2013

3Wang XQ, et al: A meta-analysis of core stability exercise versus general exercise for chronic low back pain. PLoS One 2012;7(12):e52082. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052082. Epub 2012 Dec 17

New patients receive a free consultation!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Tuesday:

2pm - 6pm

Wednesday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Thursday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Appointment Only

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

  • "Dr. Blair and his staff are wonderful, caring individuals who have always given my family the best care. You guys are amazing!"
  • Ice Capades

    In the depths of winter, adults, as well as children, exert themselves to engage in enjoyable outdoor activities that will keep them warm and provide both excitement and entertainment. Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating all have their enthusiasts. Many ...

    Read More
  • Being a Change Agent

    Being a Change Agent For most of us, change happens slowly, if at all. But as the recent holiday season fades into the distance, many of us wish to be increasingly proactive this year and take real action on the numerous New Year's resolutions that we made in regard to our health and well-being. Back ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Cheer

    In early winter, whether we're celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, both or nothing at all, families and friends gather to share food and drink and give thanks for a year successfully completed. We send up a rousing holiday cheer and share delicious holiday cheer in celebration of our accomplishments and ...

    Read More
  • A User's Guide to Healthy Knees

    Healthy knees require continuous motion. However, our generally sedentary lifestyles are at odds with the maintenance of robust knee joint architecture. Left motionless throughout large portions of the day, over time knee cartilage will break down and knee ligaments will become lax. These chronic changes ...

    Read More
  • Detective Story

    When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes applied himself to a difficult case, he famously utilized his powers of deduction. Holmes assembled and examined the facts before him and employed a scientific method of analysis to arrive at a solution that took into account of all the elements of the ...

    Read More
  • Learning From History

    Whether we're driving a car, riding a bike, or trying to record a spare at our local bowling alley, our musculoskeletal system bases its decision-making on past history, that is, what it has learned before. Drawing on years of experience, recorded deep within our muscle memory, we're able to avoid an ...

    Read More
  • A Center for Health

    Mindfulness programs and practices frequently describe a process of locating your "center." One's center may be conceived as a focus of energy, both spiritual and physical, by which all activities may be grounded and from which all activities flow. Similarly, ballet teachers and gymnastics instructors ...

    Read More
  • Wildfire Inside of You

    Comparisons between the inner world and the outer world have been frequently drawn by philosophers, nature writers, and visual artists. For example, "seeing the universe in a grain of sand" is a well-known aphorism. The number of neurons in your brain has been compared to the number of stars in the Milky ...

    Read More
  • Hitting for the Cycle

    In baseball, hitting for the cycle means that a batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run during the same game. Hitting for the cycle is a rare baseball event, occurring about as often as a no-hitter by a pitcher. Certainly, a great deal of skill is involved in accomplishing such a feat. ...

    Read More
  • Find Inspiration in Walden

    In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, each of us can increase our health and well-being by applying his guidance to our regular exercise activities. Thoreau, one of the United States' greatest writers, naturalists, and philosophers, not only walked the length and breadth ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup