Easing the Load: The Expert's Guide To Lifting Boxes (Part 1)
Whilst we at easyStorage can load things into storage for you, you will probably find yourself lifting heavy items, including boxes preparing them to go into storage.
Whilst our operators are trained, our customers often aren’t, so here’s our potted version of safety instructions to avoid both sprains and breaks! It’s always important to lift things properly.
BEFORE YOU START
Wear practical clothes
Moving things throws up dust and dirt. Wear something you don’t mind getting dirty. Avoid fabrics that rip easily, and fabrics that sweat – if you have more than a box or two to lift and move, you’ll find yourself getting hotter, even in cold weather. In cold weather, layers may be the right answer! And in wet weather you want to make sure you have some good quality waterproof layers (you may even need some for your boxes too!)
Don’t have ‘dangly’ sleeves or jewellery that can get caught on things or could easily break or get lost.
Ditch the heels. Choose shoes that have a firm grip on the ground and non-slip soles like boots or running shoes. (Heels will throw your posture, increasing the risk of accident, and will also affect your balance, increasing the likelihood of an accident. Don’t wear sliders or slip-ons: they are a trip hazard which is bad news when you are carrying heavy /bulky items.)
Can you do this alone?
It might look easy, and it might even look impressive lifting heavy objects by yourself. But take our word for it that it no longer looks impressive when months or years of physiotherapy are needed to put right an injury that could easily have been avoided.
In terms of lifting, the maximum recommended weight for a one-person lift is 25kg for men, 16kg for women. Any object weighing more should be a two-person lift.
The ‘Corner Rule’ is a useful amateur guide to whether something is too heavy. Kneel on the ground by the object you’re about to lift. If you can’t lift the corner alone, don’t attempt to lift the whole thing.
Ask for help if you need it and share the weight if you need to. (We’ll repeat this – it’s important!).
There are also trolleys and hoists that can help – look into your options before risking hurting yourself. It’s often possible to hire them.
If in doubt, don’t lift it. Listen to your body.
Softer ligaments during pregnancy make us more susceptible to injury, so lifting heavy objects while pregnant is not recommended.
Keep a wide base when lifting
Try and keep your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot just slightly ahead of the other about a foot away from what you are about to lift.
Don’t stand on ‘tiptoes’ to reach anything down or lift.
Squat, don’t bend, to lift
When you go to lift or to put things into boxes/containers, make every effort to bend at the hips and knees only. You can always try a half kneel (and then up): put one knee on the floor and the other knee in front, bent at a right angle.
Lift slowly, by straightening your hips and knees (not your back), not by bending forward. Straighten your legs to create that lift. But keep your knees bent while lifting to help keep your centre of balance.
If what you’re picking up isn’t on the ground, it’s often easier, so only ‘dip’ as far as you need in order to get a good hold. If you start to lift but can’t stand back up straight, call in help: don’t carry anything you’re straining to lift.
Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding boxes or other ‘things’. When you twist at the waist, your spine is less stable and the supporting muscles are less efficient. Move and square up rather than twisting, and try and pack things in ways that mean twisting isn’t required to reach them.
Keep your upper back straight
Think of guardsmen. Maintaining your legs’ balance, look directly ahead, shoulders back, back straight and chest out. This helps keep your upper back straight (and creates a small, healthy, arch in your lower back).
Tighten your abs (hold your tummy in) as you start to ‘squat’ down. This will help keep your body straight and support your lower back, because you want to avoid any twist as you lift.
If you have any medical history of back pain, consider carefully whether it’s even advisable to be lifting and call in help if needed. Back pain is horrible, and you’ll often get little sympathy or help because it’s not a visible injury.
Hold things close
Keep things close to your body, at around ‘belly button level’, as much as possible. Having your arms extended out may hurt both your arms and your back.
Never lift heavy things above shoulder height, and, again, don’t twist!
Listen to your body
Highly fatigued muscles can cause persistent aches or sore muscles or joints, and stiffness in joints. Your muscles may feel achy or sore when lifting, never having done it before, or not having done it for a long time. This is normal.
However, you should stop at the first signs of the following:
- swelling and feeling warm/hot in joint areas;
- numbness or tingling sensations;
- sharp, sudden pains while moving.
Keep an eye out for part 2 coming next week on the easyStorage Boxes blog!