The big part of the move is over! Though the unpacking and organizing continues, the heavy lifting is done. And so follows the review for the assistive device we bought- The Forearm Forklift (as seen on TV!).
We bought our Forearm Forklift through Amazon.com, and had no trouble with payment or shipping. The straps are compact and can easily fit in a large toolbox. The basic premise is that you have 2 straps that go under your furniture, and you and a friend slip your arms into the straps to lift objects more ergonomically. That is pretty much all of the instructions that you will receive... we got one sheet of paper with back protection techniques and a few pictures of the product in use.
The straps are designed for objects that are large enough to require 2 people to carry, but they really only work well with a certain shape- either tall/long and thin. Short and squat things (non flat-screen TVs, rubbermaid tubs) don't work very well. Though there are pictures of people carrying mattresses, we had no luck with this. And though the instructions show people moving objects with their wrists in extension and hands flat against the object, we were never able to carry something with stability without grasping our hands around the edges. There was some minor pain and bruising from where the strap hits the forearm. Considering the rows of bruises I incurred on my legs from the move, they were VERY minor. They also tended to slip off our forearms and down to the wrists, which made it difficult to use.
The instructions also showed people carrying items up and down stairs, but this was particularly problematic. Our old apartment had 15 steps (no landings, thank goodness) but a very short ceiling. This is where the straps first failed, because we couldn't lift large objects very far off the ground due to the low clearance. The straps did a little better in our new place since we had fewer steps and higher clearance, but in our situation, it was easier to push things down the stairs in a controlled manner than to try to lift them.
We have 3 dressers, and to load them into the truck we carried each drawer individually and then carried the frame. Doubling the trips that took 2 people, this resulted in 20 total trips! To unload them, we tried the straps, and were able to carry fully loaded dressers using 2 people for a total of 6 trips. A definite time-saver, especially since some of the drawers were poorly made and falling apart when we tried to move them separately, causing us to take more time to adjust them later.
Using the straps increases the prep time for each object. It's hard to get used to the motion required by the strap, even if you're familiar with body mechanics. My brother and husband aren't great with body mechanics, and there were definitely times that they used inappropriate methods with or without the straps despite warnings from their resident OT. But my brother stated that he did feel that the straps kept his back from being "destroyed" during the moving process (he is a little dramatic). My husband reported that they were useful and would use again. He had an alternative way of using them, actually lifting by the straps, which he reported hurt less than grabbing sharp edges to lift.
So, overall, it wasn't a panacea, it won't force you to use proper body mechanics, and doesn't always work as you would like. But it's cheap, and for heavy stuff, it provides some extra assist and security. There were some comments on another site from people who use it regularly and get good results, fortunately, I don't have to move THAT often so it will take a little longer to get used to it. Even if the assist and security provided wasn't all I'd hoped for, it was enough to make it worth the low price. I have linked some other sources, and a couple of other products that other people referred to in those comments. I haven't fully evaluated those, but I included them in case anyone else is looking for a good moving solution.
More Reviews from Amazon
Other Products: Shoulder Dolly and Teamstrap Moving Straps