Common Moving Injuries: Types, Causes, and Prevention
Full article 14min read
We all want the moving process to go smoothly and without any hiccups. So when it is time to finally move, all your planning and prep work will be worth the toil. But beyond scheduling, booking movers, collecting moving supplies, and packing up your things, you need to give some extra prep time to the physical act of moving itself. If you plan to carry your things yourself or with the help of friends, it is important to know how to safely carry and move heavy objects from one point to another. Not being aware or mindful of this often leads to many injuries, which can be quite painful and slow to heal.
Types of Moving Injuries
Different parts of your body require different protective gear, positioning, and consideration. Some parts are more delicate than others and should be treated as such. It is advisable that if you do not feel confident about carrying heavy objects, you shouldn’t. Consider getting professional help. But if you are sure about moving objects yourself, you need to know what’s at stake. These are the types of moving injuries that people most frequently experience.
Any movement that involves bending, pulling, pushing, or lifting is likely to strain your back by pulling or tearing a muscle, stretching a tendon, or herniated disks.
Knees have probably the most overused muscles in your body, so it is very easy to strain and injure them. The exertion they go through every day is enough to tire and weaken them.
Incorrect handling of heavy objects can lead to dislocated knees, sprains, and muscle tears. Then there are ankles, which we use every time we walk. Twisting, spraining, or tearing a muscle in your ankle is very easy if you do not distribute weight correctly.
If you fall while carrying heavy objects or simply tire out, you will be straining your neck and shoulders, which could lead to serious injuries like shoulder location, neck spasms, nerve tears, muscle pulls, and collarbone fractures.
Bone breakage is very common in moving-related injuries. The bones involved usually are toes and fingers. But this does not limit the danger of fractures just to them. Broken limbs are much worse and can cause severe pain and debilitation. You would require immediate medical care and possibly even surgery.
Your muscles are under strain since they are working from head to toe all day long. So when you start lifting and carrying heavy objects, your muscles may or may not be able to take the load for long periods. This depends on how you distribute the weight, position your body, and how much you exercise your muscles in general. Common muscle injuries include sprains, tears, pulls, contusions, and ligament and tendon tears.
Ruptures or tears in the abdominal wall, also known as ‘hernias,’ occur when your tissues have been strained so much that they are too weak to bear the brunt of carrying extra weight. Wearing a back or hernia belt before doing any lifting work might help protect your tender tissues. But ideally, if you know that you are at risk of herniating, avoid lifting anything at all.
Scraping and Cutting
The most underestimated injuries are cuts and scrapes, which you can get from sharp corners, jagged edges, rough textures, and pointy nails. Most of these cuts and scrapes are found on arms and legs, especially if the move is outdoors. To avoid the risk of cutting or scraping, make sure your body is well-covered by pants, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing.
When we are in a hurry or working against a deadline, we are most likely to be absent-minded, panicked, and not at our 100%. This is when accidents usually occur. So it would be no wonder that the rate of moving-related injuries and accidents is quite high in the country. The most common causes of moving injuries are:
Lifting heavy objects: Most people have accidents when lifting heavy objects because they either overestimated their own strength or did not follow the correct protocol when lifting. There is a safe lifting zone, which lies between mid-thigh and mid-chest. If you do not hold the heaviest part of the object close to your body within the safe lifting zone, you will likely drop it or lose balance and fall along with the object.
Dropping objects: Objects being dropped usually occurs when the object’s weight isn’t evenly distributed across the body. If weight balance is not maintained when lifting a heavy object, it will not last long in one position, causing you to lose control of it and drop it. What’s worse is that it might injure your arms and legs when it falls, causing fractures in your fingers and toes.
Slips, Trips, and Falls: When you are not suitably dressed or geared up before lifting and moving heavy objects, you are prone to accidents. Not only does the pathway between the object and its destination need to be cleared, cleaned, and skid-free, but also you need to dress appropriately. Wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket to avoid any cuts or scrapes from the rough edges of the object. Wear shoes that offer you support and have anti-skid soles.
To make this moving process an easier, safer, and more efficient one, it is crucial that you take the necessary precautions before starting to lift heavy objects. If you are someone with pre-existing medical conditions or unhealed injuries, it is strongly recommended that you hire professional movers to do the job for you. But if you are in reasonably good shape, without any medical conditions or injuries, you can probably give it a go, provided you know what you are doing. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when preparing for lifting.
Don’t lift overhead: Always keep in mind that any heavy object you are lifting should not be higher than the level of your shoulders. This also applies to regular weight or lightweight objects. As a practice, keep them at or below shoulder level. This will preserve your upper back, shoulders, and neck.
Lift with legs: Most people mistake putting all the weight of lifting on their arms, especially their hands. This is a rookie mistake, one that can cause a lot of injuries and pain. The best way to lift an object is with your legs. This means that you need to distribute the weight across your body, such that the heaviest load is supported by your leg muscles and not your arms or hands. This way, you not only save your arms and hands but also take pressure off of your back, keeping it intact and pain-free for the rest of the movie.
Don’t speed it up: Just because you’ve lifted something heavy does not mean you should sprint with it to the loading dock. Remember, the key is bodyweight balance, so if you start speeding up the process, the weight distribution will change rapidly, causing the object to fall and you to get injured. So take your time positioning yourself, lifting the object, and moving it across the distance.
First Aid Kit: Always have a first aid kit handy and within reach when you plan big moves that involve a lot of heavy lifting. Ensure that your first aid kit has bandages, gauze, disinfectant, rubbing alcohol, bandaging tape, muscle relaxant sprays or lotions, splints to secure fractured bones, any personal medicine for emergencies pain relief sprays, and pills. You could even carry protective gear like back support belts, ankle guards, and knee pads. You never know when it will come in use.
Get help: The wisest thing to do, if you can help it, is ask for all the help you can get. Ideally, you should distribute the weight of a heavy item between more than one person so that it is easy to carry, does less damage to the body, and gets the job done quicker and more efficiently. Ask able-bodied friends to help out or bring any moving tools and equipment they might think is useful for the process. And if you can afford it, it’s best to get professional movers to do the heavy lifting since they are experienced in the field and know exactly how to handle such items manually.
Moving heavy objects can be an intimidating prospect for most people, so there is no shame in feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of carrying it out by yourself. The good news is that if you plan, ask for sufficient help, and pace out the process, there should be minimal chances of injuries. Your health and wellbeing come first, so remember to pay attention to them.
What are the 5 common problems in moving items?
The five most common problems faced by people when they are moving items are:
Back pain or pulled muscles
Fractured fingers and toes
Scrapes and cuts
Knee pain and injuries
Ankle and wrists sprains
Can you hurt yourself moving furniture?
You most certainly can hurt yourself while moving furniture. Moving furniture can be very dangerous if you haven’t prepared for it or aren’t wearing the proper gear required for the moving process. The most common injuries during moving furniture are knee strain, muscle tears, and sprains. Wearing proper gear or getting professional help is highly recommended to avoid further injury.
You feel sore after moving because of a Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. This is very common when your body is exposed to new and unknown activities that it hasn’t prepared for. It’s like it goes into fight mode and ignores the toll the move takes on your muscles. And once the process is over, your body finally gets to feel everything. To avoid muscle soreness, you could do some muscle stretches and warm-ups before the moving process. You could also invest in proper protective gear that offers extra support. You could also divide the process into stages so that you can take periodical breaks for your body to regain strength.
What is the most common injury from poor manual handling?
The most common injury people face due to poor manual handling is a pain in the lower back, which may also lead to musculoskeletal disorders. Poor handling also strains arms and legs and may result in joint injuries. This is why it is so important to maintain correct postures and evenly balance out bodyweight when carrying heavy items or pulling and pushing the weight.
What is the safe lifting zone?
Also known as the ‘power zone,’ the safe lifting zone refers to a certain area of your body that is considered most suitable for lifting. It requires the least amount of effort to lift a heavy item using muscles from this particular area. The safe lifting zone is demarcated from the mid-thigh area to the mid-chest area. So when you use muscles from this area to do the heavy bulk lifting, chances are there will be less strain on your body afterward. This is why it is recommended that you place the heaviest part closest to your body in the safe lifting zone if you are carrying weight.
When you have been given something heavy to lift, you need to prepare your body by positioning it correctly. So you would need to bend your hips and knees to squat down to the level of the load you are about to carry. You must carry it once you’re there, with the heaviest part of the load closest to your body. Then, straighten your legs to lift the object. Bear in mind that you should never lift a heavy object above the level of your shoulders.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.