Elderly people are prone to injury during lifting because
of the effects of decreased flexibility and strength with
aging. As a result, vertebral compression is common among
the elderly, and may result
from a fall or during lifting. The relation between lifting
strategy and strength and postural stability in the elderly
is unknown. This study, published in Spine, attempts
to help elders choose safe lifting techniques.
Knee and hip muscle strength appeared to be a controlling
factor in whether subjects chose a back or a leg dominant
strategy. Stronger subjects, those with stronger knee and
hip muscles, used a leg dominant strategy. Subjects with proportionally
weaker hip muscles compared with knee muscles preferred a
leg dominant style of lifting, or squat-lift. The hip muscles
rotated around the pelvis, providing a stable base for the
muscles to lift the trunk.
In a leg-dominated strategy, the pelvis is in a rotated position
at the time of liftoff. The subjects with hip muscle weakness
could take advantage of the pelvic position and extend the
trunk before using their knee muscles to lift their body weight.
Weaker subjects appeared to prefer a back dominant strategy.
The choice of a back dominant lifting style is intuitive when
the knee muscles are especially weak.
Beyond emphasizing strength and endurance exercise in elderly
patients, weak elders should be taught to use a leg dominant
lifting strategy, or if they are not physically able, to use
a combined back/leg strategy. Your doctor of chiropractic
can provide you with more information on proper lifting techniques
and tips on managing and coping with weakened bones and muscles.
To learn more about senior health issues, visit http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/senior.html.
Puniello MS, McGibbon CA, Krebs DE. Lifting strategy and
stability in strength-impaired elders. Spine 2001:26(7),