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By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Be careful when
lifting heavy objects

Question: What are some basic guidelines for lifting heavy objects? I know there are ways to lift without hurting my back. I just need to know what they are.

Answer: Every year millions of Americans see a doctor because of back pain. Often the cause of their pain is because they lifted something improperly. Most of us have some idea of how to lift things safely, it's just that we forget, especially when we're in a hurry.

What follows are some tips on lifting safely. Why not post them in a central location at work and share them with your coworkers?

When lifting:

Bullet ALWAYS bend your knees and squat, keeping your back straight. That way your legs are doing the work, not your back.

Bullet NEVER lift with your legs straight, bending from the waist.

Bullet ALWAYS pay attention to what you're doing, and take your time doing it.

Bullet NEVER be in a hurry when lifting something heavy.

Bullet ALWAYS stand close to the object you're lifting. This way your entire body participates in the lift.

Bullet NEVER stand away from a heavy object to be lifted, as this invites strained back muscles.

Bullet ALWAYS stand with your feet about hip width apart to give yourself a solid base of support and balance.

Bullet NEVER stand with your feet positioned any which way, as this throws your hips out of alignment and invites injury.

Bullet ALWAYS carry a heavy object close to your body. This way, your entire upper body is doing the work, not just the back muscles.

Bullet NEVER lift a heavy object higher than chest level. Doing so can strain the back and shoulders.

Bullet ALWAYS pivot from your heels when turning with a heavy object in your hands.

Bullet NEVER twist your body when lifting or carrying anything heavy, as this will strain the lower back.

Finally, if an object is too heavy or awkward for you to lift alone, get someone to help you.

Other steps you can take to reduce your risk of back pain:

Bullet Quit smoking.

Bullet Maintain a healthy body weight.

Bullet Get regular exercise.

Q: I have a tight burning pain on the outside of my knee when I run. Do you know what the cause might be?

A: With what information you've told me it sounds like it may be iliotibial band syndrome. The iliotibial (IT) band is a bunch of strong tendons grouped together that run from the outside of the hip all the way down to the upper part of the shinbone. Its function is to stabilize the knee.

The symptoms of an IT band injury come on gradually. At first you experience a tightening on the outside of the knee, which eventually develops into a burning sensation. The pain usually goes away when you stop running and it returns when you resume training.

IT band injuries are usually caused by an unevenly positioned pelvis, which places extra stress on the IT band. Among runners, the injury is usually brought on by running on uneven roads. You can remedy this problem by alternating the side of the road you run on.

You can treat it by stopping the activity which is causing the pain and icing your knee three or four times per day.

Stretching also helps. Sit on the floor with your right leg extended in front of your body. Position the foot of the left leg across and on the outside of the right knee. Next, place your right arm so that the elbow is in contact with the outside of the left knee. Then for 30 seconds, push the arm gently to the right.

If the injury is more advanced, you may need to see a doctor.

Health Events

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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