one little change – choosing sides

You’ve mastered making multiple, lighter trips when you need to carry things. Now here’s another trick for outsmarting your task and living more comfortably in your body.

If you have a heavy bag you need next to you in the car, please place it in the car and take it from the car on the side it will sit on. Have you ever heard that its not good to bend and lift a heavy load at the same time? or twist and lift? Well, this is essentially what we’re doing when we have a heavy purse or bag and get into the car with it to set it next to ourselves. You can barely get in and out of a car without twisting at some point. Adding a heavy bag in one hand, your body is forced to engage a whole host of muscles to stabilize the trunk while you twist yourself into the car and set down that bag. Or the reverse when leaving the vehicle.

Walk to the other side of the car to put in and take out that heavy bag. That way you avoid twisting and bending and risking an injury to a back muscle or intervertebral disc. Making this one little change can really help you feel more comfortable. Try it for a week and then try it the old way and you’ll realize what a great idea it is.

Related to this, avoid putting a bag in the back seat behind the passenger seat unless you are putting it in from that side of the car. Many rotator-cuff injuries occur or are exacerbated by this seemingly benign action. Pulling a heavy gym bag or brief case from behind the passenger’s seat from the driver’s seat can really strain the shoulder and all it’s supporting musculature, ligaments and tendons. Be smarter – just walk around to the other side.

A final example of this principle is getting grocery bags in and out of a shopping cart. Get as close to the bag you’re going to lift as you can. Don’t stand on one side of the cart and lift a heavy bag that’s on the other side. Your back will thank you if you purposefully choose the side you’re on. A secondary trick is to consciously contract your core muscles just before you begin to lift a heavy load. Think of pulling your abdomen in at the bikini line. Even a small contraction of this key muscle (transversus abdominis) will make you a smarter lifter.

I realize I’m revealing my car-culture bias again here folks. Please forgive me! I did without a car for 9 years in rainy Seattle. I’m still riding on good graces from that era.

Do you have any brilliant little changes you want to share? Please let everyone know in the comments below.

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