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Safe Lifting Techniques

Lifting, Bending, and Carrying Techniques

Lifting Objects

Safe lifting techniques help prevent back injuries, but if the object you are lifting is extremely heavy back strain may still occur. The back has physical limitations.

Do Not Bend at the Waist

When lifting an object:

Keep the back straight/neutral (do not arch or round the back).

Keep the feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart to help you balance.

Push the buttocks backwards as you tilt (hinge) forward from the hips - do not round your back Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the ground.

Your knees should not extend beyond your toes, the buttocks must travel backward to achieve this.

Your body can be tilted forward slightly as long as you keep the back straight, not rounded - tilt forward from the hip joints, not the waist.

Hold the object close to the body.

Tense abdomen (this forms a brace to help protect your lower back) before lifting

Contract your buttocks and return to standing position.

Keep the muscles used in lifting with the legs strong with the squat exercise.

Lift slowly

If you can't lift slowly the object is too heavy for you and you should not be lifting it. Though lifting with the legs prevents injury to the back, you may strain your knees joints when lifting an object too heavy for you. Ask for help. If you need to turn move your feet, do not twist your back.

Carrying Objects

When carrying heavy objects, use both hands to distribute the weight evenly, and keep the object close to your body. If the object is too heavy for you ask for assistance and/or use a dolly. Some objects are easily lifted and carried for a short distance, but not easily carried for a long distance. Carrying a heavy backpack over one shoulder often causes back pain. Carrying a slightly heavy purse can also lead to upper back and neck pain over time.

If you have to choose between pushing and pulling an object (lawn mower for example), choose pushing. Pushing an object allows you to use your leg muscles to help move the object. If you have knee problems, keep in mind that pushing a heavy object may strain the knees.