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A Holiday Lift

DeSimone, Grace T. B.A., ACSM-CPT, ACSM-GEI

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ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: 11/12 2021 - Volume 25 - Issue 6 - p 3-4
doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000710
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The holiday season brings many tasks you only do once or twice a year: decorating, deep cleaning, large meal preparation, and other rituals that bring us joy. These activities also involve lifting and carrying heavy objects, which can be a recipe for muscle strain or injury. Play your holidays safe with these reminders.

Start clean: Clear your work space and work path. Remove items from your pathway that are potential tripping hazards; wear shoes or boots to protect your feet; avoid slippery or wet surfaces. In the kitchen, avoid working on cluttered surfaces, which encourage more opportunities to spill and drop things.

Lift smart: If you are pulling boxes out of the attic, garage, or basement, take your time and follow these steps for smart lifting. This technique works for laundry baskets, cat litter, and most objects that need to be lifted.

  • - Determine if you need one or two people to lift the object.
  • - Warm up for a few minutes with some shoulder shrugs, torso rotations, and high knee marching.
  • - Stand directly over or close to object.
  • - Bend at the knees, squat down, look straight ahead, maintain an erect posture (Figure 1).
  • - Make sure you have a good grip.
  • - Use the power of your lower body to stand straight up; exhale as you stand (Figure 2).
  • - Avoid rounding the back and bending down (Figure 3).
Figure 1
Figure 1:
Good form when lifting up objects.
Figure 2
Figure 2:
Good form when placing down objects.
Figure 3
Figure 3:
Avoid rounding back when lifting or lowering objects.

Move carefully: Move the box to its next destination.

  • - Take small steps. Use your feet to change direction.
  • - Keep your shoulders over your hips as you move.

Set it down: Reverse the action you took when picking up the object.

  • - Lower your legs keeping your spine erect and core engaged.
  • - Keep the object close to your body to place it down.
  • - Look straight ahead.

Hug close: Whether you are carrying a child, a laundry basket, or a heavy box, keep the object close to your body with your elbows at your sides. This will reduce strain on the back and shoulders.

Tune in: Pay attention to your body’s fatigue signals. Take a break and know when to stop.

When in doubt, empty it out: Rather than move a cumbersome box, unpack the items then move them a few at a time to make the work more manageable.

Safe oven moves: Whether it’s a cookie sheet or a large turkey, get in the habit of using great form to avoid a muscle or joint injury.

Put it in the oven: (Figure 4)

Figure 4
Figure 4:
Good form for placing items in the oven.
  • - Open the oven door.
  • - Get safely close to the oven.
  • - Get a good grip on the pan.
  • - Bring the pan close to your body with elbows at your sides.
  • - Use your legs in a squatting movement to lower yourself to the height of the oven racks.
  • - Maintain an upright posture, brace your core, and carefully place the pan on the rack.

Take it out of the oven: (Figure 5)

Figure 5
Figure 5:
Good form when removing items from oven.
  • - Reverse the actions, being careful of oven heat.
  • - Use pot holders or oven mitts that provide a good grip.
  • - Avoid reaching for the pan from the farthest point (Figure 6).
  • - Avoid bending from the hips and back (Figure 6).
  • - Have a wonderful meal.
Figure 6
Figure 6:
Avoid rounding the back and reaching from the farthest point.

Taking that extra moment to ensure safety is a wonderful gift for you and your loved ones.

Wishing you all the best for a safe season.

Copyright © 2021 by American College of Sports Medicine.