I’m sure many of you are well on your way to getting your spring cleaning done. It’s the last week in April and although the weather doesn’t seem like it, May is just right around the corner. It’s that time of year when you look in the garage or storage area under the stairs, scratch your head and wonder why the heck you kept some of this stuff. Before you push up your sleeves and get into the thick of it, remember this little story about my mother.

This happened about 10 years ago. She had decided she had enough of a garage that was slowly being taken over by junk. They didn’t even park in there anymore. So one day, while my step-dad was at work, she marched into the garage with a broom and bags in hand. She started shoving boxes around, discarding worn out items and making donation piles. She grabbed a small box and lifted it to heave it onto the workbench when a searing pain shot up her back. Inside the small box was several weights that belonged to my step-dad’s weight lifting equipment. That night she couldn’t sleep and passed out in the bathroom from the pain. She never had x-rays done or even massage therapy. To this day, she still has problems with her back.

Your Back and Spring Cleaning

What did she do wrong? Well, not checking the contents of the box is one obvious thing but there are other things she should have done regardless of whether or not there was a box of heavy weights lurking in the dark and cobwebs, waiting to be picked up carelessly. Don’t do what my mother did. Always – always remember your back when doing any type of activity and keep in mind some of these other useful tips:

    • Before marching out to the garage, do some light warm up movements and light stretching.
    • When packing up bags and boxes full of junk, keep them small rather than using one great big box.
    • Use boxes that have handle holds.
    • Before lifting a box, make sure you know what’s in it if it isn’t marked.
    • Stand close to the box (or object) and crouch down, staying as close to the object as possible.
    • When you lift, lift with the legs and carry the object keeping your legs apart and knees slightly bent.
    • Do not twist to move a box from one area to another. Instead, turn your feet in that direction where you want to place the  box.
    • If you have a bag of clothes or other objects, do not swing the bag over your shoulder or you will twist your back.
    • Keep feet apart when placing the box on a shelf and then place one foot in front of the other to keep stable.
    • Store heavier items on lower shelves.

These are just a few pointers for lifting and carrying items when you decide to get rid of the stuff you’ve been storing for years. Check out our ErgoInsight on safe lifting!

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