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Tips to Help Prevent Back Injuries for Office Moves

Volume 3, Number 5

  1. Start early. Start cleaning out as soon as you know you are moving to avoid rushing and packing everything at the last minute. Do a little each day. The more you can recycle or throw out now, the less you have to pack and move later.
  2. Warm up and stretch your back. Performing tasks you are not accustomed to, such as packing and moving boxes, may cause aches and pains. Pace yourself; stretch, pack, then stretch some more. Make sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any stretching program. Here are two simple back stretches to get started:

    Side bend
    • Feet shoulder width apart, arms at side.
    • With one hand, reach up overhead and s-l-o-w-l-y lean towards opposite side. Keep both feet flat on ground.
    • Hold for 3-5 seconds.
    • Return to starting position and repeat twice on each side.

    Backbend
    • Feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips.
    • Looking straight ahead (don’t throw your head back) s-l-o-w-l-y and gently bend backwards.
    • Caution—you should feel tension, not pain in the low back.
    • Hold for 3-5 seconds and don’t hold your breath.
    • Return to starting position and repeat three times

    If you question any of the above stretches, or feel any discomfort while doing any of these stretches, stop and check with your healthcare provider before continuing.

  3. Use good body mechanics. Points to consider include:
    • Bring the empty box to you and try not to bend at the waist for long periods of time.
    • Avoid twisting, especially when lifting or lowering heavy objects.
  4. Don't over pack boxes. Even if you don't have to lift it, the movers do. If possible, put heavier items (books, full files, etc.) into more boxes than trying to over-pack one box.
  5. Lift boxes as little as possible. If you do have to lift, here are some reminders:
    • Plan the lift and test the load.
    • Get help. Use a buddy or material handling equipment. Don't forget—a chair can be used as a cart.
    • When you use a cart, hand truck, or even a chair, make sure they are in good working order and the path is clear.
    • Keep the load close.
    • Lift with your legs and keep your back straight.
    • Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift.
    • Lower the load the same way.
  6. Never catch a falling object. Sometimes it is better to let the box drop than to try to catch it and get injured. Some back injuries occur as reactions to falling boxes, as well as shifting contents.
  7. Use good boxes with handholds cut out. Good handholds can make moving much easier and safer because they encourage proper lifting techniques. Awkward grips contribute to fatigue of the hands and arms which may cause the box to slip.
  8. Be realistic with your abilities. If you need help, ask. Sometimes you may get caught up in the chaos and speed of the move and try to lift or do more than you are physically capable. Knowing your capabilities will help prevent back injuries.

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The information herein is for reference only and State Fund does not warranty its accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose. Any products, references, or links to Web sites are not an endorsement by State Fund or its employees, but serve only as examples to assist you with your workplace design changes. State Fund cannot be held liable or accountable for content on linked Web sites.

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