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One False Move

One False Move


D Company, 2-501 Aviation CAB
Fort Bliss, Texas

When it comes to injuries, those involving the back are among the most common. One false move is all it takes to put some folks out of commission indefinitely.

There are many different types of back injuries. Strains can be triggered by overstretching, slouching and improper lifting. A back strain is compounded if you are carrying excess body weight, especially around the midsection. Sprains often result from sudden movements or twisting of the body. With a sprain, soft tissues in the back, such as ligaments and muscles, are wrenched or torn, causing swelling and pain. Overflexion, or bending too far forward, is another common back problem that results in increased pressure on the cartilage of the spine. Damage to the cartilage, or disks, can cause swelling and pain that can last a long time. Overextension, or bending too far backward, also increases pressure on the spine, resulting in potential injury.

The most important thing you need to know about these injuries, though, is that they're all preventable. To eliminate back injuries, make sure you understand the three components of back safety — posture, lifting and fitness.


Maintaining proper posture while working is the first lesson you need to learn about back safety and health. When you stand, you should keep your head vertical and facing the load, with ears, shoulders and hips aligned. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly distributed. It also helps to elevate one foot, switching from left to right from time to time. Using a simple footrest can also help prevent back problems.

If you have to be on your feet for long periods of time, it's a good idea to stand on an anti-fatigue or padded mat. When you sit, keep your head vertical and facing the work. Sit straight by keeping your ears, shoulders and hips aligned, thighs parallel to the floor and knees bent about 90 degrees. Rest your feet flat on the floor or a footrest. If you are sitting most of the day, you should have a comfortable adjustable chair with a firm backrest. It’s a good idea to have a lumbar pillow if you need extra lower back support.

Safe Lifting

Many back injuries can be traced to improper lifting and carrying. Use good body mechanics every time you lift, carry and unload objects. When you lift, face the load with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your heels down and turn your feet out slightly. Squat down by bending at the hips and knees and use the leg and stomach muscles — not the back — to power the lift. Maintain the back’s natural curves as you lift by keeping your head up.

When you carry objects, you should point your feet forward and walk at a slow, steady pace. Take small steps and turn as a single unit to avoid twisting the upper body. Hug the load. When you set down a load, reverse the lifting process, making sure to bend your knees and let your leg and stomach muscles bear the weight.


The third key to back safety and health is fitness. People who are out of shape or overweight are more likely to have back injuries than those whose muscles are toned and whose backs don't have to support extra pounds. As little as 10 minutes a day of exercises like stomach crunches and knee bends, combined with another 15-20 minutes of walking or some other physical activity, can help to maintain a healthy weight and toned muscles.


If you do injure your back, you can minimize the damage and pain and get back on your feet sooner by knowing how to treat the problem correctly. Keep in mind, however, that sudden, extreme pain needs medical treatment. If you are in a lot of discomfort, don't fool around. Try to avoid moving and call for medical help right away. Some back injuries can be serious.

For lesser injuries and everyday backaches, cold packs can be applied for 15-20 minutes for the first 24-48 hours. Heating pads are recommended for symptoms that persist for more than 48 hours. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used for a few days to take care of any aches, but remember to read the label and take only the recommended dosage. Rest can help by giving the injured muscles and other tissues time to heal.

In conclusion, here are five things to remember for back safety: Keep your back strong and fit with a healthy lifestyle. Maintain good posture whether you're standing or sitting. Be aware of your back every time you move. Remember the common causes of back injuries and avoid awkward movements that can cause back problems. Finally, use good body mechanics when you lift. Remember, it only takes one false move to put you in a world of hurt.

  • 1 March 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10272
  • Comments: 0