When you look at the amount of heavy lifting involved in preparing for a dive and the methods for entering and exiting the water it becomes extremely important to look after one of your most important pieces of equipment; your back. This month our hints and tips look at ways to help with lifting, kitting up and entering or exiting the water.
1. Stay fit
Firstly it must be made clear that problems with your back when diving will more than likely aggravate an existing (perhaps even unknown) condition. Good physical fitness and muscle condition will always make strain or injury less likely.
The combined weight of all your required dive kit is substantial and simply lifting it on and off boats or out of vehicles can cause problems. Your leg muscles are much more powerful than your back, so it makes sense to use these for lifting.
2. Lift correctly
Stand close to the object, bend the knees and with a straight back lift by using the leg muscles to stand up.
When kitting or de-kitting extra care is necessary, those fiercely independent divers who insist on donning equipment without assistance will do themselves no favours. If you insist on doing it alone lift the equipment, with the technique above, onto a bench, ledge or other surface, and then put on the BCD. Far from looking cool…the over the head and down the back technique will eventually cause injury.
3. Stand in balance
Whilst standing around in equipment it is important to center your weight, lean forward slightly and try not to position weights over the spine where the cylinder will press them into your back. Distribute weights and extra cylinders (you tekkies) evenly to ensure a balanced weight load.
4. Minimize the stress
When coming up the ladder at the end of the dive stay close to the ladder to minimize stress on your lower back. Once up either sit down to remove equipment or slowly slide it down your back onto the floor.
5. Don’t force your back, stop in time
Lastly be sensible, if you have back pain and you feel it will become worse by diving, affect your enjoyment of the dive or distract you, then stay dry. It is better to be cautious and dive another day free from concerns.
For ways of reducing the amount of weight necessary and tips on distribution of equipment take the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Course.