Be Healthy Information

Tips for Safely Lifting and Carrying

The simple act of bending down to pick something up off the floor can hurt your back. It doesn’t matter if an object is as light as a feather. The fact is, the way you bend down, and lift and carry objects, can affect the health of your back.

If you already have back pain, it’s vital to take extra caution when lifting or carrying anything. But even if your back is healthy, it’s important to bend, lift, and carry in a way that won’t hurt your back.

How to bend, lift, and carry items safely  

Here are a few pointers to help you protect your back.  

  • Before you pick anything up, consider its size and weight. If you’re not sure if you can pick up the item safely, don’t risk it. Even if it isn’t heavy, it may be an awkward size to carry safely. Ask for help if needed.  
  • When bending down to pick up an item, keep your back in its naturally arched position. Bend at the knees and hips to pick it up. Do not bend forward at your waist. 
  • Use your legs to lift. Hold objects close to your body while lifting and carrying. 
  • Avoid lifting and twisting at the same time. Instead, lift, stand, and then turn to where you need to go.
  • Try the “golfer’s reach” to pick up a light load from the floor. Instead of leaning over and bending your back, reach down with your right hand and let your left leg rise behind you. (Or lift your right leg if reaching with your left arm.) This movement gets you down lower but keeps your back in a good position. 
  • Take extra care when lifting objects out of the trunk of a car or the back of a truck.  

Make it a habit to practice these techniques every time you lift or carry something. Remember, it’s not just heavy items that can cause you to hurt your back. It’s often how you pick something up that leads to injury.  

View Credits
Primary Author: Jason Nielsen
Clinical Reviewer: Jossue Ortiz, DC
Final Review and Approval by Jossue Ortiz, DC
--> Date of Annual Review:12/20/2022
Healthyroads' Editorial Staff follow a quality assurance process to help promote each article’s accuracy:
  • A health expert provides input on topic.
  • Scientific evidence from widely accepted health texts, peer-reviewed journals, and other reliable sources is consulted.
  • Final article is reviewed and approved by a health professional.
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