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Reduce Stress on Your Body by Using Proper Lifting Techniques

  There are a few basic rules for lifting everyday items that you should follow to avoid injuring yourself. Two of the most commonly injured areas resulting from improper lifting technique are your low back and your shoulder(s).  Be mindful that it only takes one improper lifting maneuver or poor judgment regarding the size and/or weight of something to injure oneself.  There are various lifting techniques that can be utilized depending on the size and weight of the object. Squat lifting is the best lifting technique for larger loads, with larger loads making up the majority of lifts that people injure themselves with.  Take a minute and read these quick and helpful lifting tips to decrease your risk of becoming injured while lifting heavy loads:

1)  Always examine the load to be handled. Look at what you are about to lift and if necessary, carefully shift it from side to side, or   forward and backward to estimate its weight.  You should ask yourself if you can handle the weight alone or do you need help? Being honest with your lifting capabilities/strength is the number one way to avoid injuring yourself.  If you do need assistance, make sure that you seek it out before attempting to move the object.

2)  Decide on the route to take.  Have a plan in place of where you want the object that you are moving to end up, so that there are no surprises or opportunities for injury during the process. When you are planning your route be sure to check for any obstacles or environmental factors such as slippery or cluttered floors.  Clear the path if need be.

 3)  Establish a firm footing to ensure the best possible balance and stable lifting base. Stand with your feet apart, at about the same width as your shoulders or possibly even wider depending on the object’s girth. Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other if possible (slightly staggered).  To ensure good footing, also assess whether the shoewear you have on has a flat sole and good traction.

 4)  When deciding your hand placement for lifting, be sure that the bulk of its mass is as close to your body (preferably touching) and center of gravity as possible. Your center of gravity is at your hips/ waist.

5)  Always bend at your knees, not at your waist.  Slowly lower yourself using your legs and keeping your back as straight as possible all the way down.  Then tighten your abdominals/core before grabbing object to begin actual lift.


Those are the basic steps for lifting a large object but injuries can occur even if you understand proper lifting mechanics.  This happens with poor planning and/or with having to lift awkward or unexpected loads.  The following are helpful tips for lifting children and frequently lifted items such as furniture, luggage, and groceries:


* Tips for Lifting/Carrying a Child-

1)  Children may be trickier at times to lift because there are many instances when they may not want to be picked up or they may  move unexpectedly. Be sure to tell the child that you are going to pick them up, so that they know to be ready to be lifted.

2)  Squat down to the child’s level and avoid bending forward at your back.  You may need to kneel on one knee to reach the child.

3)  Bring the child’s center of mass (his/her trunk/hips) close to your waist.

4)  Have the child rest their hands on your shoulder or wrap around your body. DO NOT let the child pull on your neck as this may cause injury.

5)  Tighten your core/abdominals and use your legs to power your lift into standing.


*Tips for Lifting Furniture-

 Note:  Whether you are lifting a light chair or a large couch, similar principles of lifting apply.


1)  Squat down with your feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider.  Grip the chair along the seat or back of the chair.

2)  Be sure that you are holding onto a part of the chair such as the frame that won’t fall off.

3)  Keep the chair close to your center of mass (waist) and use your legs to power the lift.


1)  Determine the appropriate number of people required to lift the couch, considering the girth and weight of the couch as well  as  the path/distance needed to carry and the final destination of the couch.

2) Place one person in charge of the lift to give coordinated commands when lifting.

3)  Everyone should squat down with feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider and grab a part of the couch (preferably the frame), making sure to have a secure grip.

4)  The person in charge of the lift should count down “1, 2, 3, lift” to coordinate everyone’s efforts to pick up the couch.  Use legs to power the lift.

 * Tips for Carrying Groceries-

 *  Caution:  Everyone wants to get their groceries into the house in one trip, but doing this may lead to a back, neck, or shoulder injury.  Do not carry more than you can handle.

 *  If there are handles on the grocery bags, be sure to only lift in one hand what you can comfortably carry.  For heavier bags, hold the bag by the bottom and keep it close to your center of mass (waist).

 * Tips for Carrying Luggage-

 *  Most luggage has wheels on the bottom of it, so when transporting it all you need to do is adjust the handle height to your comfort to pull your luggage.  It should be high enough that you are not bending or twisting at your back to reach the handle.

 *  When lifting your luggage into the overhead bin on an airplane, you do not always have enough room to squat down for an optimal/ergonomic lift. Divide the lift into two parts to ease the difficulty of lift and decreased you likelihood of injury.  First, lift your carry-on up onto the seat.  Next, adjust your grip to lift the bag up into the overhead compartment.  Reverse this process to lift the bag out of the overhead bin.


  When carrying or moving any object, it is always important to use good lifting mechanics to protect your body during the lift. Following the guidelines outlined above will help you avoid injury while allowing you to lift and move objects more efficiently.

  Should you have any questions regarding proper lifting mechanics or would like to be evaluated following an injury sustained from a lifting incident, please feel free to call us at (630) 230-9565 or email us at info@dptsport.com.  DPT Sport is the premier physical therapy and wellness clinic in the Burr Ridge/Hinsdale area, offering evidence-based physical therapy and post-surgical rehabilitation as well as a multitude of customized wellness and injury prevention programs.