Lift With Your Legs, Not With Your Back!

by Dr. Vincent Porta, DC

“Lift with your legs, not with your back” is a saying that we have all heard before but don’t often put into practice. The reason we overlook this saying is because more times than not, we lift or bend improperly with no immediate adverse effects. Although we lift improperly and may not feel pain right away, lifting with our back puts an excess and unnecessary strain on the muscles, ligaments and vertebral discs. At The Spine and Health Center of Montvale, I see patients on a daily basis that have either strained muscles, caused a bulging disc, or even worse a herniated disc, due to improper lifting technique. In most cases, patients come in and say something along the lines of “I was not even lifting anything heavy, I bent over to help my son or daughter or I was just moving some light boxes around the garage, how could I possibly be in this type of pain?” The answer is simple. Years of improper technique while bending over and picking objects up has compromised the low back.

What is a Herniated Disc?

To understand how to prevent an injury while lifting objects we must first understand the biomechanics during a lift. When we lift improperly we are using only back muscles and do not activate the leg muscles for assistance. This means we are putting the lumbar spine (the low back) into full forward flexion. This position causes the vertebrae in the lumbar spine to come closer together in the front and further away from each other in the back.

The vertebral disc, which is located between the vertebral bodies, acts as a spacer and shock absorber for the spine. It is designed to handle the movements our bodies go through but when weight is added, like when lifting an object, excess strain is put on this disc and the surrounding musculature. Over a time period of years and years this excess strain can cause the disc to fail leaving us with a bulging or herniated disc. A common way to describe a disc herniation is to compare the disc to a jelly doughnut. When the tough outer ring of the disc fails due to an increase in pressure, the jelly-like substance in the middle protrudes out the back of the disc. This can cause an extreme pain that is more commonly referred to as “throwing your back out.”

The Proper Technique

So what is the proper technique to prevent this type of injury to the low back? We cannot use the low back to lift objects, we must use our legs. This means we must approach the object we are lifting straight on so we are not lifting and rotating at the same time. Next, bend at the knees. Do not bend at the hips but lift with a squat-like motion. Last, while keeping the low back straight at upright contract the leg muscles to preform the lift. This simple technique can save the low back excess strain and long term injury.

What Is Text Neck?

by Dr. Vincent Porta, DC

In today’s day and age our cell phones have become a technology that we cannot live without. For many people a cell phone is a device used to run their business, for others it is their connection to the outside world via social media, and for some it is used for pure entertainment. No matter what we use our phones for, most people can admit to spending countless hours a day using them. So the question arises, is the long-term use of cell phones having any negative effects on our bodies? The answer is a resounding yes. Some of the most prevalent side effects include neck, upper back, shoulder pain and headaches. Another long-lasting detrimental effect of constantly looking down at our phones is what is known as a loss of cervical lordosis. This means a loss in the natural curvature of our necks. The average human head weighs about 10-12 pounds (the weight of an average bowling ball) and as we look down further the forces pulling on the neck from the head increase as depicted below. Imagine a bowling ball pulling down on your neck all day!

As we look down at our phones not only are we adding stress to the spine but also adding stress to the supporting muscles. Muscles in the back of the neck become elongated and weak due to constant stretching, and muscles in the front of the neck become shortened due to constant contraction. Similar symptoms of neck, upper back pain and headaches can be attributed to looking down at other electronic devices like tablets and computers as well.

So what can we do to help balance and solve this problem? Take a look below for some simple solutions for “Text Neck.”

Simple Solutions for Text Neck

  • Raise Your Phone To Eye Level – Raising your phone, tablet or computer monitor to eye level will bring your head back to a neutral position, helping to eliminate the stress on your spine and neck musculature.
  • Take Breaks Throughout the Day – Taking a few 5-10 minute breaks during the day to stand upright and walk around will restore your body’s neutral position.
  • Neck Extension Exercises – Neck extension exercises will help restore the natural cervical curve. These exercises can be done using a towel or a small exercise ball as seen below by pressing down or back into the towel or ball.
  • Consult Your Chiropractor – In addition to performing a comprehensive examination, we will be able to instruct you on proper form for the exercises mentioned above. Also, chiropractic adjustments along with a customized treatment plan can help restore the spine’s natural curve and alleviate pain caused by text neck.


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