Lifting and bending the right way
Nonspecific back pain - lifting; Backache - lifting; Sciatica - lifting; Lumbar pain - lifting; Chronic back pain - lifting; Herniated disk - lifting; Slipped disk - lifting
How you can Prevent Injury
Know how much you can safely lift. Think about how much you have lifted in the past and how easy or hard that was. If an object seems too heavy or awkward, get help with it.
Warm up or stretch before you lift heavy weights. The better conditioned your body and your joints are, the less injury or pain you will have.
If your work requires you to do lifting that may not be safe for your back, talk to your supervisor. Try to determine the most weight you should have to lift. You may need to meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn how to safely lift this amount of weight.
Know how to lift in the correct way. To help prevent back pain and injury when you bend and lift:
- Spread your feet apart to give your body a wide base of support.
- Stand as close as possible to the object you are lifting.
- Bend at your knees, not at your waist or back.
- Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the object up or lower it down.
- Hold the object as close to your body as you can.
- Slowly lift, using your muscles in your hips and knees.
- As you stand up with the object, do not bend forward.
- Do not twist your back while you bend to reach the object, lift the object, or carry the object.
- Squat as you set the object down, using the muscles in your knees and hips. Keep your back straight when you squat down.
Hertel J, Onate J, Kaminski TW. Injury prevention. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 34.
Lemmon R, Leonard J. Neck and back pain. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 31.
Last reviewed on: 7/28/2021
Reviewed by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.