Many people believe they know how to lift properly and safely. They are then in disbelief when they injure their back during a "simple" lift. After getting a back injury from lifting, many people will comment, "but I even bent my knees!" Therefore, there must be more to safe lifting than just bending the knees.

Watch: Video: 5 Overlooked Tips to Protect Your Lower Back

There's more to safe lifting than bending at the knees. See Three Easy Rules to Avoid Back Injury

There are three ways that people tend to get a back injury from lifting:


Muscle Injury

Getting out of position during lifting can put a great deal of stress on the lower back muscles, and when the demand is too high on a muscle it can be injured. Too much stress can form tiny tears in a muscle, known as a muscle strain, which is a very common form of back injury.

This type of back injury can be quite painful, making it difficult to move the affected and surrounding area. When a back muscle is strained, it can even be painful to breathe normally. A back strain will typically heal, although it often takes a long time (a few weeks or months).

Disc Injury

The intervertebral discs act like ball bearings and cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in the spine. The discs are comprised of fibrous rings, which can bulge and even break open, or rupture, when injured. A disc injury in the lower back can cause pain that may radiate down into the buttocks and/or leg.

Learn about All About Spinal Disc Problems

Joint Injury

There are many joints where bones meet bones in the back. Normally theses joints are quite capable of handling the stresses of lifting. However, improper lifting techniques, even with lightweight objects, can irritate these joints and may cause them to become "locked."

Ron Miller is a licensed physical therapist with more than 20 years of experience specializing in spine care. He helped develop the physical therapy department at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin, where he focuses on manual therapy, spinal stabilization, and therapeutic exercises.

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