If there is one thing worth mastering to avoid injury it is the art of lifting. Setting yourself up correctly before attempting to lift something will keep you injury free. To achieve this it is best to practice the movements as an exercise to train the body so that correct posture and execution become second nature. The suitability of the pick up options below will depend on your physical condition so it is important to pick the right technique for the right situation.
The Golf pickup for lifting
Suitable for light items that can be picked up with one hand only. Saves on the effort of a squat for picking up something small like a pencil. Be sure to use your leg to counter
balance your weight. This technique is great for those who have some degree of stability and flexibility. Using a prop such as a chair, wall or table to stabilise yourself is also a good idea.
The Squat for lifting
A squat is something we often do without paying much notice to how well it is being performed. For those who lift items as part of their job, the squat is an integral part of manual handling duties.
As an exercise it is particularly good for your legs and one of the best to develop leg strength, working the kinetic link from the ankles all the way up to the hip. Stronger legs also offer greater support for the back, as performing better squat technique helps maintain correct spinal control.
So as well as strengthening our legs the squat exercise is also working our spine. As such the back should stay straight whilst the hips do the bending.
To performing a correct squat it is important to have the correct equal bend though our hip and our knees, making sure that the level of our knees is in line with but behind the level of our toes. Lowering yourself enough to create a ninety degree angle through both hip and knee, sticking the bottom down and back, plus maintaining a neutral position through the back is essential.
The Lunge for lifting
Whereas the squat offers a wide base of support and a higher power output for lifting, the lunge in contrast requires greater balance and is better for lifting smaller items.
The lunge is more like a variation of the squat. It works the same muscles but in a different way, challenging balance and control with an uneven load. Rather than both legs taking an equal load the front leg is working a lot harder to keep the body stable. The same posture principles of a squat apply, so ensure that there is an equal ninety degree bend through the hip and the knee whilst keeping your back straight. Remember when lunging it is important for the front knee not to go past the level of the front foot toes. In order to get down far enough the back heel will need to come up. When completing the lunge be sure to go down as far as is comfortable.
Remember that the co-ordination involved in performing these techniques for lifting and the use of momentum will lessen the need for isolated muscular strength and aid injury prevention. Also by switching on your core stabilising muscles on before doing any of these movements you will have greater control over the movement.
By doing a mixture of squats, lunges and golf lifts you will benefit from working a variety of muscles in different ways. Also if you happen to acquire an injury then having options as to how you pick something up will better enable you to rely on other muscles whilst the injured area recovers.
Incorporating these exercises into a routine and performing them correctly, will ensure that when you do need to use them in a practical manner throughout the day, that you are moving correctly.