Today we have a pro tip for you if you’ve got any heavy lifting in your near future: keep it positive!

It really can help you stay healthy.

For years, researchers at Ohio State University have been studying all the factors that can lead to pain in the back and the neck.

A lot of those factors are physical and mechanical, but some are mental.

In their study, the researchers had 17 participants lift a box and then put it down inside a square that they moved into different positions.

In the first half of the experiment, the researchers gave only positive feedback, telling the participants they were doing really well lifting and positioning the box.

For the second half of the experiment, the researchers started to suggest that the participants weren’t actually doing as well as they might have thought earlier on.

This wasn’t a particularly heavy box, by the way.

The participants were doing fine the whole time; it’s just that the feedback changed.

After the lifting was done, the researchers looked at the data they’d collected from wearable sensors and motion capture devices that were in place during the trials.

They found that once they started giving negative feedback to the participants, the peak load on the back and the neck went up.

In other words, the actual work hadn’t changed, but it felt like more work to the body.

The researchers point to what’s called cognitive dissonance, when our brains and our thoughts are essentially getting in our way.

In this case, the negative prompts from the researchers seemed to get the participants’ brains to start stressing about the task.

And because mind and body are connected, that additional stress started to change the perceived difficulty of the task, or it caused them to maybe unconsciously change the mechanics of how they were lifting and moving, or both.

Either way, it made the job harder to do.

And while this experiment lifting a relatively light box a few times isn’t going to wear anyone’s back out, the researchers say there are real world effects here.

Think about someone who does a lot of lifting or other physical activity for their job.

They’re already at a higher risk of back or neck stress because of that physical work.

Now add in a boss or a coworker who’s bringing a lot of negativity to the job – that could raise the risk of an injury.

On the plus side, it could mean helpful supervisors and coworkers… could literally have your back!

Tomorrow in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, a festival that celebrates two of the area’s most beloved summer treats.

It’s the Bell Buckle RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival, which has music, races, games and more.

And at the end, everybody shares free pieces of the World’s Largest Moon Pie.

Your thoughts can harm your neck and back during lifting tasks (Ohio State University)

RC Cola-MoonPie Festival

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Photo by the_riel_thing via Flickr/Creative Commons