Mayo Clinic Health Library

Slide show: Proper lifting techniques

Updated: 05-16-2013

Start in a safe position

Photo of man kneeling to lift a box

Before you lift a heavy object, think through your task. Decide where you're going to place the object and how you'll get it there. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, find someone to help you or make several trips carrying lighter weight.

When lifting an object from the floor, stand as close to the object as possible. Then kneel, resting one knee on the floor. Don't lift from a standing position with your waist bent or your knees locked.

Maintain the natural curve in your lower back

Photo of man lifting box to his knee

With one knee resting on the floor, tighten your core muscles — including the muscles in your abdomen, back and pelvis — and lift the object between your legs. Maintain the natural curve in your lower back, and don't hold your breath. Be careful to hold the object close to your body. Rest the object on your knee as you prepare to stand.

Use your legs

Photo of man standing as he finishes lifting a box

As you stand, maintain the natural curve in your lower back and keep your core muscles tight. Use your leg muscles — not your back — to lift the object.

Squatting instead of kneeling

Photo of man squatting as he begins to lift a box

As another option, squat rather than kneel to lift an object from the floor. Stand as close to the object as possible, positioning it between your knees as you squat. Keep your feet parallel, as shown here, or stagger one foot ahead of the other. It might help to tilt one edge of the box up to ensure a firm hold.

Let your legs do the work

Photo of man lifting from a squat

As you stand, be careful to hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve in your lower back, and keep your core muscles tight. Use your leg muscles — not your back — to lift the object.

Avoid twisting

Photo of man holding a box

When you're standing and ready to move, continue holding the object close to your body to decrease the strain on your lower back. Keep your core muscles tight. Turn by pivoting your feet, not your back.

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