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Proper Lifting Mechanics

August 16, 2022

We all do it; most of us multiple times a day.  As it turns out, it is a common cause of back pain and something we can reduce or prevent problems with a little care and attention. Of course we are talking about lifting techniques.

Improper lifting technique can lead to back, leg, and arm pain. Poor technique can cause both acute injury, or aggravate existing back pain. Learning the right way to lift can assist a person in avoiding these problems. Most people know this, but actually taking the time to perform lifting activities properly is often forgotten.



Steps to Ensure Proper Lifting Position and Technique


  1. Plan ahead before lifting. Knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear a path. If you are lifting with another person, make sure both of you understand the plan.
  2. Lift close to your body. You will be a stronger and more stable lifter if the object is held close to your body rather than at the end of your reach.  This also reduces the physical load on the back muscles by reducing distance that increases the torque load on the body.
  3. Feet should be shoulder-width apart. Having a solid base of support is important while lifting. Placing your feet too close together will be unstable, while if they are too far apart it will hinder movement.
  4. Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Practice the lifting motion before you lift the object.  Focus on keeping your spine straight. Raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees rather than bending at the waist or hips.
  5. Tighten your stomach muscles. Tightening your abdominal muscles will hold your back in a good lifting position and will help prevent excessive force on the spine.
  6. Lift with your legs. Your legs are many times stronger than your back muscles. Again, lower yourself to the ground by bending your knees, not your back.
  7. Don’t twist or bend. Face in the direction you are walking. If you need to turn, stop, turn in small steps, and then continue walking.
  8. And remember, if you’re straining, get help. If an object is too heavy, or awkward in shape, make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.