Proper Lifting Mechanics

December 3, 2019 – As we start to enter the winter season and the dreaded “s” word is around the corner we must start to think about reaching for our shovels and preparing to dig ourselves out.

The incidence of low back pain tends to climb during the winter months. Overall, we are less active and then when the snow comes, we are put in a position to have to bend, lift, and push snow that is always heavier than it looks. It is important during these times that we slow down and think about how we are bending, lifting, and pushing that snow.

“Lift with your legs and not your back” is a message we have all heard in our lives. It is very important when it comes to proper lifting mechanics. As we are working to dig out under that pile of snow, we must get low enough for the shovel to be effective. We need to think about the following aspects of using proper lifting mechanics:


Squatting: Proper squat form is essential to be able to lift with our legs. Practice this by putting a chair behind you while you are standing. Begin to sit in the chair like you normally would but once you buttock contacts the chair stand back up before you sit down. This is how a proper squat should feel.

Carrying a Load: Whenever we are carrying a heavy load with our arms it is important to carry that load as close to our body as we can. As we extend our arms it causes more strain on lower back to stabilize the load which can lead to back pain.

Avoid Twisting: We need to be able to move that heavy snow filled shovel around our bodies to get it off our driveways and sidewalks. It is important not to twist your back to do this. You must pivot your body like it is a log on your feet. Think about making sure the heavy shovel is always over your feet and never outside of them. As you turn your body the shovel and feet will turn together, by taking small steps to pivot, to avoid twisting your back.


Following these simple steps will decrease your chance of having low back pain due to the harsh Nebraska winters. Of course, you can do everything right and sometimes your luck just runs out. We are always here for free consultations to help you start the journey to getting over you back pain.

The Witte Physical Team #homegrown #backtolife

Post Surgical Rehab: Function and Stability

November 26, 2019: In our post last week, we talked about the initial steps following a surgery including pain management, improving range of motion, and addressing strength. But that is only half of the picture. What good is range of motion if you can’t lift that jar of pickles from the top pantry shelf? What good is having the strength to do a squat if you can’t get up from your favorite soft easy chair? This is where function and stability must be addressed.

Function takes range of motion and strength a step further. If we set a goal for you to achieve 4+/5 strength in your shoulder, what does that mean to you? Probably not very much. But if your goal is to be able to put your groceries away without help, this functional goal means much more. Once we have the range of motion and strength as good as they can be for you, then we want to begin to work on what that means for you. If you like to play with your grandkids, then function may mean the ability to move about the playground. If you like to be able to get in and out of the tractor then that function may mean being able to walk on uneven farm ground and climb a ladder. This answer is different for everyone, but each answer is the most important one for you.

Stability and function go hand in hand. We must have stability in each of our joints if we are going to take on the task of being functional. Stability is much more than just staying upright while we walk or run. If you are going to reach out and turn on the water valve at your house, you must have good stability through your shoulder to do so. If you are going to climb a tall set of stairs to get a great view of the countryside you must have excellent hip stability to achieve this goal. Stability is achieved from the joints closest to our trunk first. Without good strength we can’t have good stability. Without great stability we can’t have great function. There is a systematic approach that must work together for you to achieve your goals. This is our primary focus at Witte Physical Therapy, you and your goals!

Your Witte Physical Therapy team #homegrown #backtolife


November 12, 2019 – A lot of people refer to physical therapy as rehab. When the word rehab is spoken, we can also think of an athlete returning from an injury or a long-term care facility specializing in helping patients recover from more serious injuries. But what about “prehab”?

Prehab is becoming more and more prevalent in the research. As physical therapists we are seeing more and more people for prehab. So, what is it? Prehab refers to a physical therapy program that helps to prepare you for an upcoming life changing event, usually surgery. It is becoming more and more important to help speed recovery especially in the initial states of rehab after surgery.

Prehab is used to increase your range of motion before a shoulder surgery, improve your quad and hip strength before a knee procedure, decrease your back pain caused by injury or abnormal movements, and for many other deficits.

It is important that if you are planning a surgery with your physician to ask about prehab. Coming in to see a physical therapist can help better prepare you for that procedure. We can work on activity modifications that you may need due to having to use crutches, a walker, or a sling. We can give you some exercises to help with improving range of motion and strength. We can work with you on some pain relief strategies for both before and after surgery. Often a few visits of physical therapy before surgery can make the whole surgical process much more comfortable.

Your Witte Physical Therapy Team

#homegrown #backtolife