How to Lift Properly Using Your Legs
Most of us lift something every day, whether it’s a heavy box at work, groceries at the store or a package delivery at home. It’s easy to miss the importance of proper lifting form because it’s a movement all of us perform without a second thought. Unfortunately, bad lifting technique greatly increases your risk of serious and debilitating injuries such as a lower back strain and compression of a spinal disc, especially if you repeat the movement on a consistent basis. Follow these tips for how to maintain proper lifting form so you can prevent back injuries and keep yourself safe:
- Get as close as you can to the object you need to lift.
- Take a wide stance: legs about shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly forward for better balance.
- Now, keeping your back straight and your abdominal muscles squeezed, bend your knees, push out your buttocks and lower yourself. This movement should look a lot like the squat. If the object is on the floor, you can bring one of your knees down into a half kneeling position.
- Slide the object closer to you, if necessary.
- If there are no obvious grips or handles, do this: Place the hand that’s on the same side as the forward foot on the furthest side of the object and the other hand on the side of the object closest to you. Grasp as firmly as you can.
- Now that it’s time to come up, tighten your abdominal muscles again and look forward and upward. This helps to maintain form and balance and keeps a natural arch in your back.
- Maintaining a straight back, begin to slowly push up, extending your legs and straightening your knees. If it helps, you can imagine that someone is pulling you up with a string. Use your leg muscles, not your back! Make sure you are pushing down your heels, not the toes or the balls of your feet as this can cause you to lose balance.
Other Lifting Tips:
- Never make jerky or hurried movements when lifting a heavy object.
- Don’t twist or turn your body during the lift. You risk losing balance or pulling a muscle.
- If you need to change direction, start the turn with your hips instead of twisting your back or shoulders.
- Don’t lift a heavy object above your shoulders.