Thanksgiving has passed, and many of us are into the Christmas swing. You might be pulling the tree up from the basement or pushing boxes of decorations along the floor.
Of course, pushing and pulling objects isn’t seasonal: most people do it year-round. Pulling open a car door, pushing a vacuum or lawnmower, and other push-and-pull exercises are part of daily life.
But they can also be dangerous and put stress on your joints. The best way to protect yourself is with strong core and leg muscles and adequate leverage.
Core and leg muscles offer power and stability when you’re pushing or pulling. If they are too weak, you’re likely to use your back. This massively boosts the risk of injury when moving a heavy object.
You can help keep these muscles strong by walking for 30 minutes per day. If needed, split that up into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions. Adding some strength training moves – like lunges or squats – can be a big help too.
You can help strengthen abdominal muscles by pulling them in, contracting them, and holding for five seconds. Do that 10-15 times. It can easily be done while sitting.
Getting adequate leverage with positioning can help reduce the risk of injury when pushing.
Some ways to maximize leverage include:
- Standing close to the object
- Maintain a slight bend in the knees, with one leg positioned slightly behind the other
- Brace elbows and keep them closely tucked into your body
- Keep core tight
Doing this will allow the power to push to come from your core and lower body without putting stress on your back, elbow, or shoulder joints.
To pull with two hands, try:
- Facing the object
- Keep knees slightly bent and feet close to the object about hip-width apart
- Keep elbows tucked against sides
- Tighten abs as you step back.
Prepare yourself to safely move heavy objects. The last thing you want to do is sustain an injury that causes you to sacrifice the holiday season.