Using Proper Lifting Technique to Avoid Back Injury

29 October 2018

Back pain is a complex condition that continues to pose a significant health burden on individuals, employers, and society as a whole, despite a range of interventions that have been developed to reduce its impact. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point during their lifetime, and up to one thirdof the population suffers from some type of back discomfort at any given time. Not only does back pain interfere with daily routines, recreational activities, and work productivity, it’s also one of the most common reasons that people seek medical attention.  

Causes of Back Pain

While some cases of back pain develop gradually over time due to issues such as poor posture, repetitive strain, or uncomfortable working positions, many cases develop after a specific incident, such as bending or lifting awkwardly, or lifting a heavy weight. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent back injury is to use proper lifting technique, especially when lifting heavy objects.  

Proper Lifting Technique

Many people believe that they know how to lift correctly, and are surprised when they suffer a back injury when performing a simple lift. It’s therefore important to review proper lifting techniques from time to time to avoid injury. To begin, before you attempt a lift, you should check your surroundings to ensure that it’s safe to begin your lift. There should be a clear path for you to carry the object, and make sure that you know exactly where you are going to put the object down. Additionally, avoid walking on uneven or slippery surfaces when you are lifting or carrying an object as this only increases your risk of falling, and subsequently suffering a back injury. While guidelines have been developed on how to lift properly, there is no single techniquethat works for every person. There are, however, general guidelines that you should follow to avoid injury, including:

  • Warm up your muscles properly in preparation for lifting.
  • Don’t attempt to lift an object unless you are certain that you can safely handle it.
  • Position yourself close to the object you are going to lift.
  • Stand in the direction that you intend to move the object.
  • Use a wide stance to improve your balance.
  • Bend at your hips, not your back to pick up the object.
  • Ensure that you have a good grip on the object.
  • Keep your arms straight.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Tuck your chin in toward your chest.
  • Begin your lift with your body weight.
  • Keep your chest forward.
  • Avoid arching your back.
  • Lift the object close to your body.
  • Lift the object slowly and without jerky movements.
  • Avoid twisting and/or bending when lifting.
  • Cool down after heavy and/or repetitive lifting.

Additionally, if you’re going to be performing repetitive lifting, there are some additional measuresyou should take to avoid injury, including:

  • Rest periodically to prevent fatigue.
  • Stop immediately if you start to feel discomfort.

Another thing that you can do to help reduce your risk of back injury when lifting is to improve your fitness. You can accomplish this by exercising regularly to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of your back, and reduce excess fat, which will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce strain on your back.  


Back pain is commonly the result of improper lifting technique, especially when lifting heavy objects. It’s important that you follow the general guidelines mentioned in this article to protect your back and keep your spine healthy.