Tag Archives: low back pain

snow shoveling safety tips

Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

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Snow Shoveling: A common cause of soft tissue injuries & low back pain

An average of 11,500 people are treated at emergency rooms for injuries and medical emergencies related to snow shoveling each year, according to a report released Jan. 17 by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  Data from between 1990 and 2006 shows the majority of the injuries were soft-tissue injuries, with the lower back being affected 34 percent of the time. Acute musculoskeletal exertion was the cause of injury in 54 percent of the cases, followed by slips and falls (20 percent) and being struck by a snow shovel (15 percent).  Study authors recommended individuals talk to their doctor before shoveling snow, particularly those who do not exercise regularly, have a medical condition or are in a high-risk group. They also recommended alternative snow removal methods.

Clearing snow & Ice

Clearing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks is hard work. To prevent injuries, follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and other prevention organizations.

  • Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose,
    and ears.
  • Avoid shoveling snow if you are out of shape. If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel snow unless your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Do light warm-up exercises before shoveling and take
    frequent breaks.
  • If possible, push snow in front of you. If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs, not your back. Do not toss snow over your shoulder or to the side.

Use ergonomic lifting technique

Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. When lifting the snow shovel is necessary, make sure to use ergonomic lifting techniques.

  • Always face towards the object you intend to lift (ie have your shoulders and hips both squarely facing it)
  • Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight
  • Keep your loads light and do not lift an object that is too heavy
    for you
  • If you must lift a shovel full, grip the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and the other hand on the handle (handle and arm length will vary the technique)
  • Avoid twisting the back to move your object to its new location – always pivot your whole body to face the new direction
  • Keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body at your center of gravity – do not extend your arms to throw the snow
  • Walk to the new location to deposit the item rather than reaching or tossing

Video provided by the Center for Physical Rehabilitation with locations throughout Grand Rapids, MI. Check them out online here.

snow shoveling safety tips PTandMe

SENIORS NOTE:

Whenever possible, avoid shoveling snow first thing in the morning. If this is not an option, a proper indoor warm-up will prepare the body for additional activity. Jogging in place, or using a treadmill or stationary bike for 5-10 minutes are options for safely raising the heart rate while in a neutral temperature. As with any exercise, drinking lots of fluids will help maintain electrolyte balance and prevent fluid loss.

 

For more cold weather safety tips to keep you out of harm’s way this winter check the articles below!

Staying Warm in Winter PTandMe  Winter Safety PTandMe  

 

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Lifting Safety Tips PTandMe

Avoid Back Pain with These 8 Lifting Safety Tips

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Lifting Safety Tips PTandMe

During the holidays, back injuries become more prevalent as people maneuver themselves up and down ladders and stairways while carrying or lifting heavy objects. A little bit of lifting safety can go a long way to keeping your holiday season bright.

1. SIZE UP THE LOAD

Check to ensure the load is stable and balanced.

2. PLAN THE JOB

Consider all possibilities. Is the path clear? What is the weight of the load? How much stress will be placed on your back? Is there traffic, a tripping hazard, a doorway to go through, or a stairway to go up or down? Avoid carrying an object that requires two hands to hold, either up or especially down, a flight of stairs.

3. ESTABLISH A BASE OF SUPPORT

Use a wide, balanced stance with one foot in front of the other. Make sure you have firm footing and that your feet are a shoulder-width apart. This staggered stance gives you the stability of not falling over and being able to secure the load.

4. BEND YOUR KNEES, KEEP YOUR HEELS OFF OF THE FLOOR AND GET AS CLOSE TO THE OBJECT AS POSSIBLE.

Always lift with your legs and not your back.

Proper Lifting Technique PTandMe

5. BE CERTAIN YOU WILL BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN A HOLD ON THE OBJECT WITHOUT HAVING TO ADJUST YOUR GRIP LATER.

You can use gloves to help maintain an adequate grip, but don’t rely on gloves because they can de-sensitize the fingers making you unable to feel the object.

6. LIFT GRADUALLY

Lift gradually with your legs without using jerky motions.

7. KEEP THE LOAD CLOSE TO PREVENT ARCHING YOUR LOWER BACK.

As you begin the lift, tighten your stomach muscles, and keep your head and shoulders up. The closer the load is to your spine, the less force will be placed on your back.

8. PIVOT

Don’t twist. Move your feet in the direction of the lift. This will eliminate the need to twist at the waist.

Whether at home or at work safe lifting practices can keep your back healthy and safe. Before lifting heavy objects decide how you will lift carry & place the item before you pick it up. If you are experiencing persistent pain, please contact us. We want to help you to be at your best this holiday season.

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Can Knee Pain Cause Low Back Pain

Can Knee Pain Cause Low Back Pain?

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Can Knee Pain Cause Low Back Pain

Knee osteoarthritis remains a significant problem among US adults 60 years and older. A recent study suggests knee arthritis rates as high as 37 % with women showing higher rates vs men (42% vs 31%) and higher rates among those with significant weight problems.

As a result, many of these patients opt for a total knee replacement. However, patients often suffer from pain and have difficulty walking for many years before deciding to proceed with such surgery. Living with pain for an extended period typically causes changes in how a patient walks in an attempt to relieve the pain associated with knee arthritis. Sometimes this is even done subconsciously, but it can lead to additional problems, such as low back pain (LBP). An example of how knee pain can cause low back pain would be a knee flexed position that leads to a patient leaning forward when walking. This changes at the pelvis and contributes to low back pain.

Physical Therapy Can Help Your Low Back and Knee Pain

When a patient seeks help from a physician complaining of low back pain, they are commonly referred to a physical therapist for treatment. In treating these patients, physical therapists will provide a complete and individualized assessment of the causes of low back pain, which may include a thorough biomechanical evaluation and gait assessment. Patients that go to physical therapy with knee arthritis/osteoarthritis have likely developed a permanent knee bent posture (osteoarthritis patients almost always keep their knee bent at 10 degrees or more to relieve pressure or to prevent the sheering force on the knee).

Even though back pain and knee arthritis are significant problems there is a solution. Through aggressive physical therapy that is aimed at restoring normal gait patterns, spinal mobility, and conditioning, patients have had significant relief of back pain and are prepared for successful rehabilitation following a total knee replacement. By eliminating the knee bent position before surgery and normalizing gait patterns patients can exercise more effectively, improve cardiovascular conditioning and reduce the energy cost associated with changes in how they walk all while reducing back pain.

If you believe your knee pain is causing your back pain, you may benefit from physical therapy.  Through years of experience, we have seen that comprehensive manual therapy, aimed at restoring normal walking patterns in low back pain patients considering a total knee replacement, can result in a significantly easier recovery of normal function during post-operative rehab.

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Provided by the therapists at Life Fitness Physical Therapy – MD
www.lifefitnesspt.com

Low Back Pain (LBP) Top 5 Exercises to Reduce Back Pain

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How to Reduce Low Back Pain
Over time, we develop arthritic changes in our back due to normal wear and tear. Below is a list of low back pain exercises that can help reduce lower back pain. These exercises will help you, in time, return you to your normal activities and improve your quality of life.

Top 5 Exercises to Reduce Back Pain

1. LOWER TRUNK ROTATION

Lie on your back with your knees bent.
Keep your feet and knees together and lightly rotate your spine.
Stop the stretch when you feel your hips coming off of the table. Only rotate to approximately 45 degrees and rotate back and forth like a windshield wiper.
Repeat for 2 minutes.
Low back pain

2. ABDOMINAL BRACING

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slightly elevate your hips but not high enough to where it comes off of the table. Simultaneously, squeeze your abdominal muscles down towards the table. Continue to breathe.

Hold this for 10 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 2 minutes.

Low back pain
Low back pain

3. SINGLE KNEE TO CHEST

Bring one knee to your chest.

Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat alternating legs to your chest for a time of 2 minutes.
Low back pain

4. FIGURE 4 STRETCH

Cross one ankle over to the opposite knee and press down on the resting leg. You should feel the stretch in your hip.

Hold this stretch for 30 seconds if you can tolerate it. Repeat for 3 repetitions, then switch legs.
Low back pain

5. PIRIFORMIS STRETCH

Cross one ankle over to the opposite knee. Pull the resting knee across your body and up towards your chest. (You should aim for your opposite shoulder as a reference). This stretch should be felt over the crossed leg buttock.

Hold for 30 seconds if you can tolerate it. Repeat for 3 repetitions on each leg.


Written by Laura Cifre, OTR/L, PT, DPT, Director at Green Oaks Physical Therapy – Irving, Texas.
To learn more about Green Oaks Physical Therapy click here.

 

For more information about back pain, physical therapy click the links below.

beware bed rest for back pain  chronic back pain  low back pain relief

low back pain relief

Low Back Pain: There is relief

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Understanding back pain: You’re not alone & there is relief

Low back pain affects nearly everyone at some stage of life and is one of the most common ailments seen in medical practices. It is referred to by many different names including lumbago, lumbar sprain or strain, slipped or bulging disc, degenerative arthritis, or, when it extends into the leg, sciatica. Research suggests that between 60% – 75% of the population who experience back pain once will experience recurring or chronic problems. Most patients will not consult their physician for first-time problems their back, so you may be one of the thousands worldwide who continue to have recurring problems with their back.

To most people, their low back pain is confusing and frustrating. Many times it starts without warning and for no obvious reason. It will interfere with the performance of basic daily activities and the ability to get a good night’s sleep. Then, often the pain will subside just as unexpectedly as it started. When in acute pain, most people are unable to think clearly about the trouble and simply seek pain relief. When episodes of back pain subside, most will then go on to forget about their back trouble. Due to a lack of understanding of the specific nature of the back problem, we are unable to deal with the problem ourselves and are unable to prevent future episodes.

The majority of back pains are mechanical in nature, meaning that they are caused by problems with the moving parts of the spine. Therefore, certain movements that you make and positions you adopt can lead to the onset or worsening of pain. A very common example of this is patients who complain of worsening pain with bending forward for prolonged periods. Also, sitting for prolonged periods at work or while driving will bother these individuals and they might find it hard to get up from a sitting position. In some cases, it might even take a few minutes to be able to stand upright properly.

If you are like most patients with mechanical low back pain, you are better when you can move around frequently and worse when you have to remain in one position for long periods. You feel better when you are walking or are able to change positions frequently. There are times in the day where you will be much better and might even have no pain at all, and there are times when it is much worse. There are some whose pain will have worsened to the point that it is constant and the changing of positions is necessary to simply find some relief from the pain.

If you are a back pain sufferer, be encouraged that most patients can get significant help with their back pain. Exercise and activity need to be a regular part of your management strategy, but the exercise must be specific to your problem. Your program should include a daily walking program if possible. Management of your back problem is each individual’s responsibility, but we are here to help you. You may benefit from an individualized consultation with a physical therapist with specific training to evaluate mechanical spine disorders if your pain does not subside.

Common Back Problems Seen by Physical Therapists:

  • Strains & Sprains
  • Herniated Discs
  • Degenerated Discs
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

Low Back Pain Quick Assessment

If 3 or more Yes’s are present then the patient would likely benefit from a Mechanical Diagnosis and Physical Therapy Examination.

The more YES’s that are present, the higher the probability of a successful outcome with a mechanical examination.

  • Are symptoms present for less than 16 days in the most recent exacerbation? Yes or No
  • If the patient has lower extremity symptoms, are the symptoms above the knee? Yes or No
  • Does the patient’s low back pain vary in intensity? Yes or No
  • Do movements or positions change the patient’s symptoms? Yes or No
  • Does the patient have a hard time standing after sitting? Yes or No
  • Are the symptoms worse after bending, stooping, or sitting? Yes or No
  • Are the symptoms usually worse in the morning? Yes or No

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For more information about back pain, physical therapy click the links below.

Low Back Pain Physical Therapy  chronic back pain  beware bed rest for back pain

gardening ergonomics

Gardening Ergonomics

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gardening ergonomics

It’s that time of year again. Time to exchange snow shovels and winter boots with gardening tools and watering cans. While the warmer weather brings on a new sense of happiness and energy, we need to remember to use proper body mechanics and follow general safety to avoid muscle aches and potential serious injuries. The number one injury associated with gardening is low back pain.

Here are a few tips to make your gardening experience more enjoyable and less painful.

LIFTING:
Lifting heavy objects such as bags of soil, planters and mulch improperly can lead to low back strains and/or sciatic pain. Other options include moving half of the soil/mulch to a separate pot before lifting the bag or planting in to smaller pots that are easier to maneuver. Using a garden cart or wheelbarrow can also assist with moving heavy gardening materials. Remember to lift with your legs, avoid simultaneous lifting and twisting and keep heavier objects close to your body to avoid injury.

PLANTING:
Prepping the soil can also be a difficult and tedious task requiring prolonged forward bending and frequent changes in position. Try prepping the planting bed by using long-handled gardening tools. Once the soil is ready, plant from a kneeling position using either a kneeling stool or a cushion. Remember to avoid twisting at the spine. Those with known chronic low back pain may want to consider planting in to pots, flower boxes or raised flower beds to avoid further injury.

WEEDING:
Most people dislike weeding their gardens and flower beds. Options to reduce the need to do so include using plants as ground cover or using mulch in your flower beds to minimize weed growth. If using a weed spray, look for bottles that have a sprayer hose to allow you to stand upright while treating your problem areas.

MOWING THE LAWN:
Another task that most people find tedious. When able, use an electric start mower. The action of pulling a cord to start your mower is the most common cause of low back injuries. If you must use a pull start mower, remember to bend at your knees and maintain the natural curve of your spine while reaching for the cord. Make sure you tighten your abdominal muscles just before pulling the cord in order to support your spine. If using a push mower, remember to maintain proper upright posture and take breaks as needed.

Remember to listen to your body. Take frequent breaks and change positions when you start to experience aching, cramping or fatigue. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. If you do happen to experience low back pain or any other injury, remember to contact your physical therapist. They can help alleviate your symptoms as well as educate you on proper body mechanics.

gardening

GARDENING STRETCHES
Stretching before you start gardening can help you from experiencing pain later. Here are some stretching techniques to help get you started!

1.) Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

2.) Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

3.) Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back further. This is a stretch for the triceps. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

4.) Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend in the wrist downward. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the wrist backwards. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

The warm-up exercises were developed by professional hand therapists who are occupational and physical therapists specializing in the treatment of the hands, arms and shoulders. These exercises and tips have been designed to supplement more commonly known gardening safety practices that concentrate only on preventing back injuries.
For more information visit: www.asht.org

PT can Help

Elf Injuries and How PT Can Help: Part 1 of 3

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Elf Injuries_2016-11_FBsize

It’s that time of year, when we check in on Santa’s helpers to see if they can use some physical therapy. With their heavy lifting and high demand job they’re always experiencing injuries. Our new elf friend Ziggy, is the perfect patient for physical therapy. Let’s see how PT can help Ziggy!

Here’s part of his story…

Ziggy was working late one night in the North Pole. When all of a sudden… he lifted a large toy scooter and fell over on to his back. OUCH!

elf on PT & Me website

Luckily, Santa and his elves have an amazingly good north pole internet provider, and Ziggy was able to go online to the PTandMe website and find great physical therapy clinics in his area.

elf on pt table

Now Ziggy is at one of PT & Me’s physical therapy clinics with one of our trusted therapists to help relieve him of all his back pain. He will be back to making more toys real soon, just in time for the holiday!

See Ziggy’s complete physical therapy experience here!

elf injuries physical therapy PTandMe   Elf on the Shelf Physical Therapy

elf injuries

Special thanks to Action Physical Therapy, in Houston, TX, for accommodating the demanding work schedule of Santa’s elves. Click Here for more information about Action Physical Therapy.

PT News

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This Month in PT News. Featuring articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

back

1. My Back Pain Always Returns! What Can I Do?
Written by the Therapy Team at the Jackson Clinics – Northern Virginia

After the common cold, the most common reason Americans miss work is back pain. Unfortunately, once you have experienced back strain or injury, it can easily become a recurring problem. Read more

uncommon

2. Uncommon Injury and Treatment Process
Written by Steve Retan AT, ATC, the Center for Physical Rehabilitation – Grand Rapids, MI

Having worked as an athletic trainer for the last 23 years, I have treated and rehabilitated countless injuries.  However there are times that athletes sustain injuries that I have not seen before.  One such injury occurred to a high school hockey player after colliding with an opponent during a game. Read more

ankle

3. Tips for Improving Your Ankle Mobility
Written by the Therapy Team at Momentum Physical Therapy – San Antonio, Texas

It’s important for a physically active body to achieve a stable balance between each active joint for maximum performance. In order for all of this to happen, ankle mobility is essential and is the root for several exercises or workouts! Read more

shin splints

PT News

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This Month in PT News. Featuring articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

flu

1. Resuming Exercise After the Flu Bug
Written by the Therapy Team at the Jackson Clinics – Northern Virginia

Flu season is in full swing, and along with the regular flu, the new H1N1 virus is infecting thousands of people. Influenza can be a serious illness. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches, sore throat , runny nose, dry cough and a general feeling of exhaustion and sickness. Read more

New Year Resolution

2. The New Way to Resolve
Written by Allison Whitteberry, PTA at the Center for Physical Rehabilitation – Cascade

According to Statistic Brain, 41% of Americans usually make New Year resolutions. However, after six months, less then half of those American’s have maintained their resolutions. Read more

Shin Splints

3. What You Need to Know About Shin Splints
Written by the Therapy Team at Momentum Physical Therapy – San Antonio, Texas

Shin splints is one of those old health terms that pop up from time to time, like “lumbago.” Lumbago refers to low back pain, which actually can be caused by different things. Read more

Safe Lifting Practices for Back Injury Prevention

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Whether at home or at work safe lifting practices can keep your back healthy and safe. Before lifting heavy objects decide how you will lift carry & place the item before you pick it up. Test the weight of the load by moving or tipping it. Figure out if you can break the load down by placing the contents of large containers into a number of smaller ones before moving them. Is the path clear? What is the weight of the load? How much stress will be placed upon your back? Is there traffic, a tripping hazard, a doorway to go through, or a stairway to go up or down? Avoid carrying an object that requires two hands to hold, either up or especially down a flight of stairs. Use the elevator. Plan a rest stop, if needed. Knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear a path, and if lifting something with another person, make sure both of you agree on the plan.

KEY STEPS FOR SAFE LIFTING PRACTICES

Establish a Base of Support: Use a wide, balanced stance with one foot in front of the other. Make sure that you have firm footing and that your feet are a shoulders-width apart. This staggered stance gives you the stability of not falling over and being able to secure the load.

Keep Your Eyes Up: Looking slightly upward will help you maintain a better position of the spine. Keeping your eyes focused upwards helps you keep your back straight.

Get a Good Grip: With your palms and make sure you have an adequate hold on the object. Be certain you will be able to maintain a hold on the object without having to adjust your grip later. You can use gloves to help maintain an adequate grip, but don’t rely on gloves because they can desensitize the fingers and make you unable to feel the object.

Lift Gradually with Your Legs: Without using jerky motions. By using your leg strength, your chance of lower back injury is greatly reduced.

Tighten you stomach muscles: As you begin the lift and keep you head and shoulders up.

Pivot – Don’t Twist: Move your feet in the direction of the lift. This will eliminate the need to twist at the waist.

Weight: A lighter load normally means a lesser risk of injury. The weight of the object should be within the capacity of the person to handle safely.

Handling: It is easier to pull or push a load than it is to lift, put down or carry.

Keep the Load Close: Holding a 20lb object with your hands 20 inches from the body creates more compressive force on your low back than holding it 10 inches away. This is because the muscles in your back have to work to counterbalance the weight when it is further from the body. As the compressive force on your low back increases, so does the risk of muscle strains, ligament sprains and damage to the disks in the spine.

Frequency: The more times a load is handled, the more tired the muscles become, making it easier for the person to be injured.

Distance: The farther the load has to be moved, the greater the risk of injury.

Duration (TIME): Where the job involves repetitive movements, reducing the time spent on handling will help to ensure the movements are not causing unnecessary strain.

Forces Applied: Forces should be applied smoothly, evenly and close to the body. Forces exerted should be well within the capacity of the person, and the person should maintain proper posture.

Nature of the Load: Loads that are compact, stable, easy to grip, and capable of being held close to the body are much easier to handle.

Terrain: Rough ground, steep slopes, slippery and uneven floors, stairs and cluttered floors make moving a load awkward and increase the chance for injury.

Environment (Climate & Lighting): If it is too hot, too humid, too cold or the lighting is inadequate, the capacity to work safely is reduced.

Condition of the Workplace: Safe and comfortable working conditions, with adequate space to perform the task, and tools and equipment that are well-maintained, make their job safer.

Age/Gender: Young and old workers alike may be at an increased risk of injury from manual materials handling activities. Ensure abilities of employees are in line with functional job requirements.

Training: Proper training for the specific task is vital to reduce injury.

Team Lifting: If one person cannot lift or move a heavy, large or awkward object safely, organize a team lift. Team lifting reduces the risk of injury, reduces fatigue and makes the task much easier.

Raise/Lower Shelves: The best zone for lifting is between your shoulders and your waist. *Put heavier objects on shelves at waist level, lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.

Avoid Lifting from the Floor: Lifting from the floor can greatly increase your risk of injury for two reasons. Firstly, it is difficult to bring objects close to your body when picking them up from the floor, especially large objects where your knees can get in the way. Secondly, your low back must now support the weights of your upper body as you lean forward, in addition to supporting the weight of the item you are lifting. Lifting the same 20lbs from the floor more than doubles the amount of force on your low back when compared with lifting is from waist height. Even a one pound object lifted from the floor increases you risk of injury if you use a bent over posture.

Get Help When You Need It: Don’t try to lift heavy or awkward loads on your own. Even though the muscles in your upper body may be strong enough to handle the load, the muscles, ligaments and disks in your lower back may be injured because of the additional forces they have to withstand. Get help from a co-worker, and whenever possible, use a cart, hand truck or other mechanical device to move the load for you.

This content was written by Fit2WRK who has partnered with PT and Me to give a comprehensive look into the services physical and occupational therapists provide. For more information on Fit2WRK click here.