Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists

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Back Problems: Proper Lifting

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Introduction

No one is immune to having a back injury. Whether you have a strong back or have hurt your back before, it is well worth it to:

  • Stop yourself before casually picking up a light or heavy load.
  • Plan in your mind for the best way to lift what's in front of you. This could include enlisting help from one or more people.
  • Lift and move slowly and carefully.

The time you take to use the right lifting mechanics is far less than the days, weeks, or months it can take to heal from a back injury.

How can I lift without hurting my back?

Follow these basic rules to protect your back while lifting:

  • Keep a wide base of support. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other (karate stance).
  • Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only. If needed, put one knee to the floor and your other knee in front of you, bent at a right angle (half kneeling).
  • Maintain good posture. Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders back. This helps keep your upper back straight while maintaining a slight arch in your lower back.
  • Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back). Keep your back straight, and don't twist as you lift.
  • Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button.
  • Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps.
  • Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move.
  • Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Joan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy

Current as ofMarch 21, 2017

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