Research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat the weakness and frailty too often associated with the aging process.

Regular strength training (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), can build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality regardless of age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression.

The Wellness Team at Plymouth Harbor, led by Chris Valuck, is committed to the full range of resident wellness, but for many the idea of wellness begins with physical wellness and strength. It is easy to incorporate strength training into a personal fitness routine, but it is also very important to use proper lifting techniques. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers experience back injuries each year.  This does not take into account the many people who injure themselves working around their homes or attacking weights at the gym.

Using Proper Lifting Techniques

There are basic rules to follow when lifting heavy objects (or even lighter weight objects) in the weight room as well as in everyday life. Are you familiar with these do’s and don’ts?

Know or test the object’s weight.
Plan the lift and clear your path.
Get help for heavy or awkward loads.
Keep the object in the power zone (close to your body).
Use a wide stance for balance.
Use your legs to lift.
Pivot your feet to avoid twisting.

Hold your breath.
Bend or twist at the waist.
Use a partial grip   (1-2 fingers).
Obstruct your vision when carrying.
Lift quickly.
Pull a load if you can’t push it.
Lift using your back. (See Squat technique below)
Hold the item outside of the power zone (away from your body).

Try this easy power move – The Squat

No weights or lifting are necessary for this strength-training exercise. Squats are an easy place to start as you are using your own body weight to provide the resistance.  If you are faced with lifting something heavy, using the technique of the squat will protect your back.

Targeted Body Part: Gluteus Quadriceps
1. Place feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles.

2. Extend the arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down.

3. Initiate movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back,. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.

4. While the buttocks starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight.  Keep the head facing forward with head straight ahead for a neutral spine.
5. Let the hip joint squat lower to the ground than the knees.

6. Engage the core, and exhale while driving through the heels to return to standing.

Reference: Middlesworth, Mark. Injury Prevention Tip-Proper Lifting Techniques. Ergonomicsplus. Retrieved August 28, 2013 from: