This scenario is one you’ve probably experienced before.

You go to pick up something bulky to move it–maybe a small end table, perhaps a box of garbage to bring out to the curb, or maybe your collection of summer lawn decorations. Just as you’re about to pick up the table, box, or plastic flamingo collection, someone else says emphatically, “Be careful!” Or, “Don’t forget to bend your knees!” Or, “Watch your back!”

You roll your eyes, sigh, say, “I know!” Or, “I’ve got it!” But, you make sure to bend your knees, to be as careful as possible, and to pay attention to any protesting from your back. Later on, you might notice that a slight twinge, but you think, “Hey, I didn’t break it, so I’m fine.”

While we agree that not breaking your back is definitely a win, we’d like to share with you the proper lifting technique.

How to Properly Lift an Object in 7 Steps

Step #1: Plan your route

This is probably common sense, but we’ll say it anyway. Before you begin to lift anything, plan the path that you’re going to use to move it. Make sure there’s nothing in the way that you’ll need to step over (or could trip over).

If you think that you might need help, try to enlist aid before you pick up the object so that you all can work together.

Step #2: Get as close as possible to the object

You’ll want to position yourself as close as possible to the object that you are lifting. It requires more force to hold an object that is further away from your center of gravity. That end table does not get heavier if you hold it at arms’-length from you rather than closer to your chest. But, it requires more force to hold it up, which will require more work from your lower back.

Step #3: Get into a half-kneel

You’ll want to get into a half-kneel behind the object, resting one knee on the floor, the other bent in front of you. Don’t lift starting from a standing position with your waist bent or your knees locked.

Step #4: Tighten your core and maintain the natural curve in your lower back

Tighten your core muscles–the muscles in your abdomen, back, and pelvis. Lift the object between your legs, maintaining the curve of your lower back. Keep breathing normally— don’t hold your breath. Keep holding the object close to you and rest it on your bent knee as you get ready to stand up.

You can also squat to lift the object rather than kneel. In this case, you’ll still want to stand as close to the object as possible to start. Move it between your knees as you squat. You can keep your feet parallel to each other or put one slightly in front of the other.

Step #5: Use your leg muscles to lift the object

As you stand, whether you were kneeling or squatting, make sure to keep your core muscles tight and to maintain the natural curve in your lower back. Use your leg muscles to lift the object.

Please note: Do not twist your body as you are lifting the object. Step to the side if you need to turn.

Step #6: Use your feet to change direction and lead with your hips

Once you have lifted the object, make sure to keep it close to your body. Use your feet to change direction, and take small steps. Lead with your hips, keeping your shoulders in line with them as you move.

Step #7: Squat as you put down the object

Slowly and carefully squat with your knees and hips only as you set down the object. Try not to drop it on your feet!

Next time someone tells you to watch your back while you’re lifting and moving something, you can say, “I know,” with confidence! Now you will be sure that you do, in fact, know what you’re doing.

Are you experiencing back pain after improperly lifting something? We want to help! Contact the doctors at the South Orange Chiropractic Center today to set up an appointment.