8 Safe Lifting Tips to Save Your Back
24 Nov 2016
POSTED BY: Admin | Comments: 0

By: Lisa Malowany


Ever pick something up and think, “oh boy, that was heavier than I thought it would be” or “ouch, that hurt!”? Even though lifting and moving things is a part of everyday life, not doing it properly can have a major effect on the body.  Everyday movements such as the way we pick up a purse or a briefcase can put stress on our neck, back and shoulders if we don’t think about how we are lifting. 

I often hear people say that it was a small thing that put their back out, like passing the peas at the dinner table. The reality is that it is not typically the passing of the peas that caused the injury, but rather years of lifting improperly that has weakened the muscles in the back. With that in mind, here are a few tips for you to remember whenever you are lifting anything:

1. Always remember good body mechanics. 

If your body is in alignment (keeping your ears over the shoulders, shoulders over hips, lifting with your legs, and keeping your elbows tucked in) and you maintain this positioning for the entire movement, you are significantly reducing the chance of an injury occurring.  

2. Be creative. 

Use any device available to you to assist in moving something. If you need to move an item across to the other side of the building, do you have a rolling cart or even a chair on wheels that you could use? You can move the chair next to the item you need to move so that you will only need to lift it onto the chair and then roll it to where it needs to be. 

3. If something looks like it may be difficult to manage, look at what's inside. 

Can the load be reduced and moved by moving it item by item?  For example, a case of laundry soap may be much more easily managed by moving it bottle by bottle. Remember, it is not a race. You always have time to be safe.

4. Always move the shortest distance possible.

The longer you carry the load; the more pressure you are putting on your body. Move things in stages if necessary to avoid carrying things a longer distance. Avoid twisting or turning your body when lifting.  If you need to change direction, use your feet and legs to turn your body.   

5. Keep the load close to your body.

Keep your elbows tucked in and hold the item as close as possible. This will help you to avoid injury as the item moves with your body. 

6. Lift with the legs!

This is one of the most common phrases you hear when it comes to safe lifting for a reason.  Always use your powerful thigh muscles to lift objects, not your back.

7. Think about where you are storing items. 

Are you storing things that are heavy on the top of a shelf where you have to reach outside of your comfort zone to move it?  You may need to move things around to make it safer for everyone. 

8. Think twice and move once.

If you need to move a heavier item, think about how you are going to manage this load.  Are you going to lighten the load, move it in stages, or have another person help you to move the heavy item? Just like the old adage of measure twice cut once, this is really about thinking carefully about what we are doing. 

These tips are essential when lifting, no matter your strength or fitness levels, your back is simply not meant for this level of stress. By keeping some of these things in mind, you can protect your back and prevent painful and long lasting injuries. 


If your organization has roles that require a lot of lifting, consider training your employees with the TLR (Transferring, Lifting, Repositioning) program. Dates for 2017 will be announced next week. For more information, visit SARC’s Learning Central.

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