Lifting a Go Kart for Dads with Bad Backs

Kart on a standWhen my daughter and I joined our local competitive karting league, AMKA (www.amka.ca), I discovered that a frequent off-track activity in this sport is lifting the kart on and off the stand for service and transport.  I happen to suffer from a herniated lumbar disc where tweaking my back could mean being bed-ridden for 7 days with extreme pain.  Naturally I looked for way to minimize this risk and discovered a simple solution and it has to do with squatting technique.

The issue occurs when lifting the rear end of the kart, not so much the front.  You see, the front of the kart has a piece of the frame that is relatively high off the ground, so there is no need to bend over as much as in the rear.  The rear end lifting points are at ground level. So the strain that is put on the spine is quite high.

The best way to lift the kart in the rear is to do a wide stance squat. The wide stance allows the pelvis and upper body to stay in the upright position, hence taking the strain off the lumbar section of the spine.

According to “Secret Of The Perfect Squat — Widen Your Stance” article on  bodybuilding.com:

When performing a narrow squat, the distance to parallel is greater than in a wide squat. Reaching depth in a narrow squat requires tucking the lumbar under the torso to facilitate hip flexion. The resulting flexion of the spine under a load puts pressure on the L5/S1 area, which could be linked to bulging discs and other spinal complications.

This is not to say that a traditional squat will cause low-back injury, but without consistent development in this squatting pattern, the greater force placed on the spine can take a toll over time. The posterior movement of the hips in a wide stance can contribute to a more neutral back positioning without tucking your lumbar.

So give it a try next time you need to lift your kid’s kart back onto the stand. Your back will thank you for it.