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Heavy Lifting: How to Carry Without Hurting Your Back (no, not your Overwatch team)

I was half-joking when I offered to write a guide for carrying CRTs, but there was enough interest to get me thinking seriously–at any given tournament, there are plenty of heavy things to carry, from CRTs to computer towers to chairs, desks, tables, and AV equipment.

Whether it’s something you do frequently (and therefore experience the stresses often) or infrequently (and therefore don’t use the necessary muscles on a regular basis), it’s worth considering how you lift. There are a few nearly-universal points to keep in mind, and a few others that are specific to what you’re lifting. Let’s start with the general rules.

1. Whenever possible, don’t lift.

The easiest way to avoid lifting-related stresses is to not have to lift in the first place. Now, I don’t mean that you should make somebody else do all the work; just that whoever’s doing the work should do it smartly. If you have a dolly or a cart of any kind–anything that can cut down on the amount of time you’re bearing the weight of the object–USE IT!

2. If you have to lift, lift with a friend.

If you can’t avoid lifting entirely, decrease the amount you have to lift by sharing the load with someone else.

3.  Use the right muscles

The muscles that control rotation, flexion (bending), and extension (straightening) of the spine are much smaller and easier to injure than the larger muscles that make up your thighs, butt, and core. When people say “lift with your legs, not with your back“, they mean bracing your core muscles to keep your back straight and allowing your leg muscles to do the majority of the work. It’ll look something like this:

 

4. Keep it close

The closer something is to your center of gravity, the less work it will take to carry. Your center of gravity is right around your bellybutton, so heightwise, it should be between your sternum (breastbone) and bellybutton. It should also be as close to your body as possible; keeping it further away makes for a longer lever arm, which means you’re doing more work to lift the same weight.

5. Put it down if you need to

You don’t have to get all the way from point A to point B in one trip. It’s better to take a break and take longer than to lose good lifting form in a single long trip. Your injury risk is significantly higher with fatigue and bad form than with having to put down/pick up an object multiple times (as long as you do that with good forms).

And that’s it! If you’re going to be carrying, this is the way to do it.

(Can’t do anything about your no heals, offensive Symmetra lineups or the guy who claims mid Disruptor TOTALLY WORKS, GUYS!, sorry.)

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