Do you want to have a healthy back for a long time? If your answer is yes, you might want to take a little advice from my dad. Before I ever considered becoming a doctor of chiropractic, my father was helping people keep their backs healthy, in his own way.
Dad was a high school metal shop teacher for many years, and always enjoys getting a chance to talk to former students and catch up with what’s going on in their lives today. One day he chanced to run into a student who owned his own moving business. After catching up on the twenty or so years since he had this fellow in class, Dad couldn’t resist asking him a question. He said “Carl, I’m curious, do you remember the advice I gave you about lifting heavy things back in metal shop?” Carl grinned and replied, “Yes, and I’ve used it ever since. In my moving business, every single one of my employees has hurt their back at least once, but I’ve never had a back injury since I opened business.”
Carl could remember clearly Dad’s advice to “keep your chin up!” when lifting. After years of teaching metal shop, my father had noticed that students who were lifting correctly always kept their chins up while lifting. Because he found students didn’t listen so well to the “bend your knees, use your legs to lift” advice, he tried simplifying to “keep your chin up”, and found that students remembered and applied the advice much better.
As a kid, I wasn’t sure Dad’s advice really worked, and I have to admit I didn’t always use it. I hurt my back a few times, too. Now, as a practicing doctor of chiropractic, I am well aware of why his advice is sound. When our lower spine is slightly flexed, it is in its weakest position, and is more easily injured. Our back is far stronger when kept straight – watch any competitive weightlifter do a deadlift, and you’ll see they keep that spine straight and bend at the hips. But, many people find it hard to get in the habit of paying attention to their back and legs when they are busy lifting something. The solution? Just pay attention to keeping your chin up. It forces you to keep your back straight and lift with your legs. It also makes you much less likely to twist while lifting, which is another big cause of back injury.
I hope you get good use out of this valuable tidbit. Now you know what took me formal education to finally admit. My Dad was right – if you want to keep your back safe when lifting, “keep your chin up!”