Tips and Techniques For Lifting Heavy Objects

Time for a quick refresher.  Most people intuitively know the things this article will include, but knowing something and putting it into daily practice are two different things.  The most common cause of acute back pain is a sudden injury to the ligaments and muscles that support your back. The most common way those ligaments and muscles can sustain injury is via improper lifting of heavy objects.

If you’ve already hurt your back, then it’s time to focus on the cure, rather than prevention.  Prevention will be crucial once you’re healed, so that you don’t get hurt again.  In terms of the cure, there are a few simple things you can do, including:

  • Gentle, low impact exercise
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Alternating ice and heat (with ice being the most beneficial here)
  • And over the counter pain medications to help reduce swelling and inflammation

Once you’re feeling better, let’s review the following proper way to lift heavy objects  to minimize your risks:

  • Assess the object in question. Is it ripped, torn, or weakened in some way, such that when you try to lift it, it will be difficult to grasp, or begin to fall apart, causing you to twist unexpectedly?  If so, find an alternative to lifting it.
  • Test before committing. Give the object a hearty shove to gauge its weight.  Is it something you can conceivably lift?  If not, don’t even try without help.
  • Plan your route – Don’t lift something heavy without knowing where you’re going to take it, and ultimately, where you’re going to set it down. Be sure that the path between those two points is clear of obstructions so you don’t have to do any fancy footwork en route.
  • Lift with your legs, more than your back. Start in a squatting position and allow your powerful leg muscles to bear the brunt of the lift.  Your back should play only a supporting role.

If you do those four things, then you’re much less likely to suffer an injury while lifting, and your back will thank you for it!

Snow Shoveling Injuries Are More Common Than You Might Think

Quick, how many people do you think are injured shoveling snow every year?

The number may be higher than you imagine.  According to a study recently published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, more than 11,000 American adults are sent to the ER every year with injuries directly related to shoveling snow, along with more than 700 children under the age of 19.

The study, which looked at emergency room statistics from 1990 to 2006, found that shoveling snow sent people to the ER with a variety of injuries. Some examples are  aching backs,  head injuries, broken bones and even heart problems.

Dr. Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, and the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio had this to say about the findings:

“Not only is the heart’s workload increased due to shoveling snow, but cold temperatures also add to the chances of a heart attack in at-risk individuals.”

While heart problems were the deadliest of the snow shoveling-related injuries unearthed by the study, the most common were back strains and sprains.  The unfortunate reality is that the basic design of the snow shovel hasn’t changed much over the past hundred years, and they’re not at all ergonomically designed.  Because of this, people who use them have to bend over farther, then support the added weight of snow on the shovel, which can easily lead to painful strains and sprains.

There are a few simple things you can do, however, to minimize your risk of injury:

  • Don’t just dive in, warm up first! Shoveling snow should be treated no differently than any other form of exercise.  A warm up is a must!
  • Wear proper shoes – Try to choose rubber soles with good traction so you’re less apt to slip and fall
  • Push, more than lift – Lifting the heavy shovel puts added stress and strain on your body. If you must lift, make sure to lift with your legs and not your back.
  • Pace yourself – don’t try to get it all done at once. Breaks are not just okay, but recommended!

If you keep those things in mind as you break out your winter gear and grab the shovel, you’ll go a long way toward minimizing your risk of injury.


Are There Health Benefits To A Face Massage?

If you’ve ever enjoyed a trip to the day spa, you’ve probably had a facial. At some point while you’re reclined back and enjoying the sensation, you’ve probably been treated to a face massage.

You may be wondering then, other than feeling incredible, are there any tangible health benefits to getting one?  The answer may surprise you!

Obviously, there are a raft of cosmetic benefits to getting a face massage.  It makes wrinkles less likely to form, especially around the corners of your eyes. In addition, it leaves your skin looking and feeling both healthier and younger.  Those are all good things, but of course, it would be hard to categorize them as tangible health benefits.

In that vein, the single biggest benefit you’re likely to see is  that a face massage is an incredibly relaxing experience, and anything that helps you relax also helps you to de-stress.

The simple truth is that we live in a fast-paced, “always on” world.  If you’re like most people, there are days when you don’t really know if you’re coming or going.  Long hours at work.  A million things to do when you get home.  Planning the next day.  All of those things cause your levels of a hormone called cortisol to rise, and cortisol causes stress.  The more of it you have in your body, the more stressed out you feel.

Stress won’t kill you directly, but it is a gateway to bad health.  You can link stress directly to a number of potentially deadly conditions, including high blood pressure and heart disease.  So, anything you can do to reduce stress is going to be good for your overall health.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go to a day spa to enjoy the benefits of a face massage.  It’s something you can do yourself, in the comfort of your own home. Best of all, it only takes a couple minutes every day to reap the stress-reducing benefits.  Try it yourself and see!  You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.