One of the first things we try to ingrain in new members coming in to Bios is the concept of the braced, neutral spine and how we can utilize it to keep us safe when lifting objects. Regardless of whether you are in the gym doing deadlifts or at home working in the yard, we all need to think how we can most effectively, efficiently, and safely pick things up.
KEEP IT CLOSE
When picking up a barbell at the gym, we always encourage our athletes to keep the barbell as close to your body as possible when lifting. The same thing applies when lifting other objects as well. When lifting an object, think about keeping it aligned over the middle of your foot throughout the entirety of the lift. The farther away the object is away from your mid-foot position, the more torque is created placing higher shear forces on the spine and increasing the likelihood of rotational forces being introduced. Basically, if you keep the weight close to your body, the less pressure on your back and you are more likely to be able to safely control the object.
ENGAGE THAT CORE IN THE OPTIMAL POSITION
Our spines are a series on individual joints that work together to provide us structure as well as protect and house the spinal cord. Just like other joints in our body, the spinal column can move into extension and flexion. When lifting loads we want to position our spine in what we call a neutral position, somewhere between flexion and over-extension. This position properly aligns the vertebrae to most effectively handle loads and forces.
Once we find our neutral spine position, we need to fix that position and stabilize it using our core muscles. Our core muscles include all of the musculature surrounding the spine. The core is comprised of much more than just our “abs”. To engage our cores, think about squeezing your glutes hard while tightening and expanding your abdominal muscles. (Think guarding your stomach if somebody was trying to punch you in the gut.)