Protect Your Back: Proper Lifting Techniques

We have your back, do you?

Put simply, picking something up wrong can royally screw you up. Your life matters too much to spend it in pain or with limited mobility.

Proper Lifting Techniques

Have you ever examined how you perform every day tasks like taking the laundry out of the washer?

Many of us mindlessly lift or move items without ever thinking of our body positioning. However, the body does not respond well to carrying loads in certain positions. 

Lifting Techniques

No matter how light or how heavy the load, there is a specific technique to properly lifting it.

Heavy Loads

  • Feet shoulder width apart

  • Knees are bent - so you can lift with your legs

  • Back straight

  • Tighten abdominal muscles

  • Elbows bent to prevent weight from being transferred to your back

  • Stand close to the object and face it directly

  • Avoid twisting, the body doesn’t tolerate rotation while loading very well

  • Lift close to the body - the further the load, the more strain is placed on your body

The Golfer’s Lift: Light Loads

This lifting technique is used when picking up something small such as a golf ball, utensils, fallen pieces of food, etc.

  • Knees do not bend - one leg comes off the floor behind the other leg and provides balance

  • The opposite hip bends

  • Body becomes parallel to floor (except for weight bearing leg)

  • One arm reaches to receive object from ground (typically same arm as weight bearing leg)

  • Back leg (leg in air) allows for spine to stay neutral and avoids strain on back

All of these lifts mitigate load.

Common Back Injuries from Improper Lifting

Poor Alignment

Improper lifting techniques can cause injury to the vertebral discs, joints and muscles within the spine. Poor lifting can cause the vertebra in the back to shift out of alignment resulting in shifted discs. When discs are out of alignment they can come in contact with the nerve roots or spinal cord causing pain. Symptoms such as numbness and tingling, bowel and bladder dysfunction, irregular gait pattern, diminished sensation and/or decreased strength can occur depending on the severity of the injury. These symptoms often require medical intervention.


Depending on the positioning of the spine, the small joints in the spine may experience increased compression which can cause pain or irritation and altered mobility. The muscles surrounding the joints can become irritated because they are compensating for the lack of stability within the joint, thus causing their strain.