There is no such thing as wrong lifting

We all know the situations in everyday life where we have to lift heavy objects or want to help others with some heavy lifting such as moving boxes, holding a child for a bit, carrying heavy furniture, etc. But heavy lifting can take a toll on your lower back.

It’s important to realise that this is not because we use an incorrect lifting technique. After all, why should lifting a removal box be more difficult than lifting a weight at your gym?

The important thing is to know that your body will tell you what it is capable of and how far it will cooperate. Also, there is no right or wrong way to lift. Your body will use the logical and most natural physical approach to lifting your load.

All you should really worry about and work on is strengthening your back. Putting your back out or spraining it will only occur if your movements are unpractised or your back is untrained.

You can check out suitable back-strengthening exercises in our video library – and learn some tips that will help you in everyday life.

Lifting doesn‘t have to take a toll on your back
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The best thing you can do to for your back is to strengthen it through regular exercise – check out our video library and work on that! Being reasonable about your lifting tasks

will also help:

1. Plan ahead before lifting heavier loads. Knowing what you‘re doing and where you‘re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear your path first, and if lifting something with another person, make sure both of you agree on the same plan and direction.

PREVENT AWKWARD AND SUDDEN MOVEMENTS BY PLANNING AHEAD2. Test the load. A classic situation that will strain back muscles: trying to pick up boxes that you think are empty but are actually filled with books or CDs. To find out how heavy the box is, try nudging it with your foot first or cautiously lift it by an inch before really trying to lift it up. If it is too heavy for you, don’t try to prove you can do it – just ask for some help.

Plan ahead and try to avoid awkward movements
See lifting as a workout
3. Dress for success. Wearing tight clothing can prevent you from using proper biomechanics such as bending your knees, especially when lifting. Try wearing loose-fitting clothes when you know you'll be lifting.
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If you're no lifting champion and you think your lower back is not up to the challenge, check if you can minimise the load:

  1. The weight of the load. If your back is not up to the whole load, divide it into smaller parts.

  2. How long you lift for. You're more likely to get injured when you're tired after long hours of lifting.
  3. The speed with which you lift. This is not a race – there are no medals to be won.
  4. The distance the load is to be carried. Ensure your path is free from obstacles...
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Remember that hurt is no harm.

It’s too late and your lower back is already in pain? Be aware that hurt is not harm – your back won‘t be 'worn out' and in most cases will recover quickly – if injury or illness can be ruled out.

If you're unsure about the cause of your lower back pain and it does not subside after a few days, please see your doctor. And watch out for signals such as pain radiating to your leg. (See the Instant Help section about Lower Back Pain.)

  1. Temperature helps. You might want to try cooling the area with a cold pack – ice is a natural pain-reliever and will work against swelling. Place it on the sore spot and if you feel this helps, leave the cold pack on for no more than 10 minutes each hour. See a doctor if you suspect there might be inflammation.
  2. Warm it up. If there is no swelling and you believe your pain has a mechanical cause, apply warmth. Heat will help to alleviate tension and works well against hardened or knotted muscles.
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If in doubt, always visit your doctor.

Unless you are a medical professional, you will not be able to tell where your back pain comes from. Knotted muscles will be alleviated by warmth, while cold will help to reduce acute symptoms of inflammatory pain, bumps and swelling. See what helps in your case, and visit your doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.


The best way to take care of your back is to prevent injury and strain rather than deal with their aftermath. So it’s a good idea to incorporate a few of these tips into your everyday life:



3. Walk away from it. Walking keeps your back healthy by conditioning your whole body. Its natural rhythm of contraction and relaxation strengthens the postural muscles. A brisk stroll may also help your body release endorphins – hormones that subdue pain. Try walking or some other aerobic exercise for 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Swimming, cycling and running, yoga or Pilates are good too.

4. Supported sleeping. Your mattress should provide proper support, be flat and even and not sag. A bed loses a tremendous amount of firmness as it ages. A mattress is like a pair of shoes. It may suit your needs at one time, but it wears out as time goes by. Invest in a good one. Usually medium is better than very hard. But test what suits you best before you buy, whether it’s soft or hard that you prefer. A good indication is sleeping more comfortably in a specific hotel bed.

5. Tobacco taboo. You may not want to hear this, but smoking is not only bad for your general health, but specifically for your back: it increases the overall aging of your spine. Try to quit the habit as soon as possible if you suffer from back problems.

1. Straighten up. To improve your posture, follow some of the exercises from our video library. Or try to do this exercise: stand up against a wall or sit in a dining room chair – make sure that your shoulders and buttocks touch the wall or your chair. Slip your arm into the space between your low back and the wall or chair, tilt your hips so that the extra space is eliminated. Stay in that position while counting up to 20 while looking at a mirror to see what your posture looks like. Do that exercise once a day for three weeks to ensure that maintaining good posture becomes a habit. After a few weeks of exercise, you will see your posture improve.

2. The a.m. stretch. If you feel stiff in the mornings, you can start off your day by stretching while you are still in bed. Before you get up, slowly stretch your arms over your head, then gently pull your knees up to your chest one at a time. When you are ready to sit up, roll to the side of the bed and use your arm to help prop yourself up. Put your hands on your buttocks and slowly lean back to extend your spine.



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Please note that none of the above tips replace professional medical advice. Consult a health expert in case of an injury or if you suspect overuse of joints or a medical condition such as a fracture. A physician should be consulted in those acute cases when your condition is accompanied by reddening, swelling or hyperthermia of joints, ongoing joint trouble or severe pain and/or are associated with neurological symptoms (e.g. numbness, tingling, loss of motion).

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Safe Lifting & Back Pain Prevention | Elastoplast UK