This post on lifting technique wraps up our four part series on Body Mechanics. Here’s what we know so far:

Body Mechanics is defined as ways in which the body moves and maintains balance while making the most efficient use of all its parts.

Posture is simply the way your head, torso, arms, and legs are aligned.

The Base of Support is the area upon which an object rests. Generally speaking, our base of support is our feet.

A quick review of Muscle Groups reminds us that the major moveable parts of our bodies are the head, trunk, arms, and legs. The strongest muscle groups are in the shoulders, upper arms, hips, and thighs.

Let’s wrap this up with Lifting Technique. I hear you, I hear you. Does this really apply to rigging? It’s a fair question. You know, because we’re always lifting and carrying boxes in the high steel…

Actually, yes. If you think of the first 3 areas of Body Mechanics – Posture, Base of Support, and Muscle Groups – as tools and/or check lists leading up to Lifting Technique, every bit of it applies whether you’re on the ground or on a beam.

Here are the guidelines to keep in mind for Lifting Technique:

  • Bend from the hips and knees – DO NOT bend at the waist in a broad base stance. Can you picture how this works, especially if you’ve already established proper posture supported by a solid base of support? You don’t want to hyperextend your knees back, locking them, and then try to move anything from that position. You’re asking for a tweaked back and pulled muscles.
  • Keep your back straight. Gently pull your stomach in and support your back with your core muscles.
  • Let the strongest muscles (shoulders, upper arms, hips, thighs) do the job. Support those muscles by stretching and taking a rest when you need to. Don’t forget to breathe!
  • Push, pull, or slide rather than lift and use the weight of your body to do so.
  • Carry or haul heavy objects close to your body. Let’s go back to hauling rope. By keeping your arms close to your body as you pull miles of rope, you’re allowing your shoulders and upper arms do most of the work. You can even rest your elbows on your thighs to provide leverage and extra support.
  • Avoid twisting as you work – turn with your feet and entire body when you change direction of movement. You can still heed this advice even if you’re hanging under a beam. Try to turn your body so that you’re not all kinked up and hanging to one side. Don’t try to pull anything over your shoulders or from behind your back. Once you’re in a stable, relatively comfortable position, then you can get to work.
  • Avoid bending over for long periods. Stand up every now and then to stretch and to breathe.
  • If something is too heavy or too much to handle, let your teammates know and ASK FOR HELP.

About a month ago, I posted that OSHA states very clearly that the best way to stay healthy is to take every precaution to prevent injuries or accidents. That’s really what this series was all about – preventing injuries and accidents. I hope you found some useful nuggets of information in these posts. Until next time!