Service members and their families relocate a lot, and moving to a new home is hard enough without adding a back injury to the mix. So be mindful of how you’re lifting and moving while you’re packing up and loading up. Try these tips to help reduce your risk of injury and properly move heavier things such as boxes and furniture.
- Warm up, just like you would before any workout.
- Remember to keep your core tight, and use your leg muscles (rather than your back) to lift heavy objects.
- Keep objects as close to your body as possible.
- Wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet from falling items.
- Take breaks when necessary. Stretching and reassessing your mechanics can help you maintain proper posture when lifting.
The best way to prevent back injury is to strengthen your back and core muscles. You can prep for your PCS by doing exercises—such as planks, lunges, and vertical core training—that focus on these areas.
If you’re sore from all the lifting or think you might have pulled something, you can treat the pain with ice and rest—and perhaps an over-the-counter pain reliever—for the first 48 hours. Follow the MedlinePlus guidelines on how to further treat your back pain if it’s acute. However, if the pain persists, consult your doctor to rule out a more serious back problem or injury before you do any more heavy lifting. Certain yoga stretches also might relieve your pain, build your muscles, and return your back to normal function.
Read the U.S. Army Public Health Command’s “How to Safely Perform Pushing and Pulling Tasks” for more tips. And visit HPRC’s Injury Prevention section to learn more about how to protect your back. Good luck with your PCS!