Did you know that 1 gallon of milk can put 129 pounds of force on the lumbar discs?

You may have heard that you lift an object, you should always keep it close to your body. There is good reason for this. Even what seems to be light weight objects can put tremendous stresses on our spines. In fact, we subject our body to these stresses every day. Most of the time we don’t realize it until our back hurts.

The Principle

The principal you need to understand is for every 1 pound of weight you hold in your hand with an outstretched arm, you are putting 15 pounds of pressure on the lower lumbar discs. 

1 gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds. When you reach out to put the milk in the refrigerator, you will be applying up to 129 pounds of force to the discs. 

Think about other items you lift that strain your back. Heavy, wet laundry is another example. Lifting groceries in or out of your car. What about those grand kids that are hard to resist picking up? 

What you can do to help

There are two major things you can do to prepare your body and minimize these forces.  

  1. The first thing is to tighten you core BEFORE you begin to lift. This involves squeezing your buttock and stomach.
  2. The second thing is to stagger your feet front to back. You are much more stable with one foot in front of you prior to lifting. This widens your base, especially with extended reaching such as putting groceries in the trunk of your car.

Both these things add stability to your back and reduce your chances of injury. 

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