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Your Guide to Heavy Lifting
last updated:
Thu, 9/23/2010 2:11 PM
Well, we have sold our house and began moving into an apartment. I have been watching the movers move our furniture and the physical therapist in me has begun teaching those who lift-for-a-living proper body mechanics because I saw many back injuries in the making and this job is their living. So, I want to share these same proper body mechanics with you because it is so important to protect your back and use the proper technique and body structures to lift so you don't injure yourself.

First, it is important to pay attention to your spine and posture when lifting. A neutral spine must be maintained with lifting to prevent the injury. A neutral spine has 3 normal curves- 1. neck 2. middle of back, and 3. lower back. To practice maintaining a neutral spine take a cane or dowel rod and place the stick down your spine. The top end must stay in contact with the back of your head and the bottom end should rest at your tailbone area. Holding the stick against your back, bend at the hips forward. Now begin to bend your knees and squat as if you are sitting down. Your knees should not pass your toes. Your bottom should be sticking out behind you. So..1. Maintain neutral spine, 2. bend at hips 3. squat by bending knees and then lift.

Lifting tips to prevent injury

  1. Check to see how heavy the load is you will be carrying.
  2. Make sure the load is close to your body when carrying the item.
  3. Move your feet apart, bow at hips, squat by bending knees and lift by using your buttocks and legs to push up to straight posture.
  4. Keep the stomach muscles tight and maintain a neutral spine.
  5. To lower the load perform the bow, squat and sticking your buttocks out behind you bending your knees as you lower the load. 
  6. It is eaiser to load and unload at waist height.
  7. If there is pushing or pulling involved, PUSH DO NOT PULL.

I hope these tips help you protect yourself when lifting or carrying items so you do not experience the pain from a back injury.


Dawn Caldwell is a Physical Therapist in Memphis, Tennessee with Methodist Healthcare. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000