Preventing Back Pain at Work and at Home

These articles are for general information only and are not medical advice. Full Disclaimer. All articles compliments of the AAOS.


Proper Lifting Technique

Plan ahead what you want to do and don’t be in a hurry. Position yourself close to the object you want to lift. Separate your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support. Bend at the knees. Tighten your stomach muscles. Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up. Don’t try to lift by yourself an object that is too heavy or an awkward shape. Get help.

To lift a very light object from the floor, such as a piece of paper, lean over the object, slightly bend one knee and extend the other leg behind you. Hold on to a nearby chair or table for support as you reach down to the object.

Body Position for Lifting

Whether you’re lifting a heavy laundry basket or a heavy box in your garage, remember to get close to the object, bend at the knees and lift with your leg muscles. Do not bend at your waist. When lifting luggage, stand along side of the luggage, bend at your knees, grasp the handle and straighten up.

While you are holding the object, keep your knees slightly bent to maintain your balance. If you have to move the object to one side, avoid twisting your body. Point your toes in the direction you want to move and pivot in that direction. Keep the object close to you when moving.

Placing an object on a shelf

If you must place an object on a shelf, move as close as possible to the shelf. Spread your feet in a wide stance, positioning one foot in front of the other, to give you a solid base of support Do not lean forward and do not fully extend your arms while holding the object in your hands.

If the shelf is chest high, move close to the shelf and place your feet apart and one foot forward. Lift the object chest high, keep your elbows at your side and position your hands so you can push the object up and on to the shelf. Remember to tighten your stomach muscles before lifting.

Proper Sitting Technique

When sitting, keep your back in a normal, slightly arched position. Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Keep your head and shoulders erect. Make sure your working surface is at the proper height so you don’t have to lean forward.

Once an hour, if possible, stand and stretch. Place your hands on your lower back and gently arch backward.


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