Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Safe Lifting


here were two throws that I had difficulty with when I first started out in Jiu Jitsu – the hip throw and the shoulder throw. To me, they felt really awkward. I just couldn’t lower my centre of gravity enough. The excuse I always fell back on was that my legs were too long.

That didn’t impress my teacher.

“Don’t lean forward so much…bend at the knees and keep your back straight! Now lift your partner by pushing up with the legs!”

He was right of course. There were a few times when I worked out with a partner who was far heavier than me and…leaning too far forward…I tried to lift him over my hip. The result was always the same: my bigger, heavier partner always collapsed on my back. And down I went.


In martial arts training, all parts of the body have to be in alignment. In Judo, Savate, Karate…power often begins with the legs. The lessons I learned on the tatami mats about lifting can certainly be applied to other areas of life.

I came across a statistic at one time which mentioned that 80% of people in North America would experience some form of back problems during their lifetime. Some of that comes from poor lifting.

Let’s look at the math behind poor lifting -

1. If you stand straight (without lifting anything), there is a compressive force of appx. 80 lbs on your lower back.

2. If you hold a 20 at a distance 10” out from your spine you will feel a compressive force of 170 lbs. riding your lower back.


3.  If you hold the 20 20” out from your spine, you will feel a compressive force of around 260 lbs. on your lower back.

4. If you bend forward at the same time while holding that 20 lb. box  you will feel a compressive force of around 635 lbs. on your lower back.

5.  Just by holding a 1 lb. object 20” out in front of your spine while bending forward and down, you will feel a total of 460 lbs. of compressive force on your lower  back.

I'm sure you can appreciate why SAFE LIFTING involves - keeping your back straight, bending your knees (not your back), using the more powerful leg muscles and keeping your chin up.

SAFELIFTING also means never lifting and twisting.  Always turn your feet into the direction you want to go. Please, for the sake of your back, ask for help when lifting something heavy. Is a momentary shortcut worth a lifetime of pain?

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