Returning to Functional Lifting after Injury

Returning to Functional Lifting after Injury

Many jobs require various amounts of lifting throughout the day. Whether its ten pounds, twenty pounds, thirty pounds, or even heavier…there is a technique for proper lifting and prevention of injury. While some people may understand the general concepts behind safely lifting something, there continues to be many work injuries stemming from poor lifting technique. When an individual works in what may be called a frequent lifting position, or a job that requires you to lift moderate to heavy amounts of weight many times throughout the day, it is easy to become fatigued and rely on what are called compensations to achieve your goals.

A compensation is something that offsets a difficult movement by changing the direction of the action. For example, you may know in your head that you are supposed to bend your knees when lifting a heavy object, however, you are at the end of the work day and your legs are exhausted. You have one box left to put in the truck and you figure, “Well, I can just toss this in and be done”. Instead of performing the proper lifting technique, which includes bending your knees, you bend at the waist and attempt to lift. This can result in increased pressure and torque on the already tired muscles in your back, resulting in injury. What you attempted to do was compensate for your tired leg muscles, however, it was done at the expense of your back.

Compensations throughout the lifting process do not necessarily only affect the back, but you can also injure the arms, neck, stomach, and other body parts. Just like an athlete trains a certain movement, like a basketball player performing a lay-up, or a running back performing a cut, an individual who performs various lifting tasks at their job must practice the act and perfect the movements so that eventually, the performance of proper lifting becomes second nature. If you have experienced an injury and you find yourself at Injury Care Center for rehabilitation, there is good news! We are a team of physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists, that are trained to get you back to top form. In that training, we will work to achieve your previous level of function, and if that includes lifting for your job…you are certainly in the right place! At the Injury Care Center, we have three locations in Glenolden, Chester, and Philadelphia that have the tools to work specifically with functional lifting.

What is functional lifting, you may ask? Well we all understand the lifting portion of that phrase, but the functional part refers to a certain strength that can help you achieve daily positions and tasks. Functional strength and lifting include movements like squatting, pushing, pulling, and reaching, in addition to many others.

At each location, we have a functional lifting station, where we can education and demonstrate the appropriate way to lift and prevent any further injury. When an individual presents themselves to our clinics with an injury that prevents their body from performing tasks they are used to executing, it can be discouraging. We will use various tools, including biofeedback straps, verbal education and cueing, and visual education and cueing to help you return to your previous form. Our lifting stations include shelves positioned at specific heights to challenge patients. We understand that each task at a job may require you to move differently and achieve alternate positions, and we will work to prepare you for any and all requirements of you job post injury.

When you are attempting to return to work after injury, we will progress you through several strengthening steps to ultimately assist with your overall functional lift. These steps will include core strengthening, lower extremity or leg strengthening, upper extremity or arm strengthen, cardiovascular training, and balance training. All of these things are needed to accomplish the proper lifting technique.

While you are performing your training with our team, we will teach and train you on how to lift objects with and without handles, carry objects that may include boxes and buckets, and push and pull items at various heights…all with proper alignment of the spine and use of adequate muscles to both prevent injury and alleviate any problems that may arise because of fatigue. When performing a lift from the floor to knee or waist height, it is important to look for handles that may be useful. With or without handles, you will be educated to keep the object close to your body. Holding a heavy object far away from you will actually make it seem heavier and increase the forces on your arms and back. If you find that you need to move something from the right to left, we will show you how to properly align your body and step to avoid twisting injuries. When tasked with moving an object across a distance, pushing is a more desirable action than pulling, however, we understand that some jobs may require various amounts of pulling, and we have several tools to assist with simulating these situations.

Whatever the task, we will aid in your recovery to achieve the proper functional lifting technique!


Author: Karl Russo

Injury Care Center

901 W. Ashland Avenue

Glenolden, PA 19036



Injury Care Center

1502 Upland Street

Chester, PA 19013



Injury Care Center

3300 Grant Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19114