Back Safety

Sarah Schultz
Lifting Technique

So we have all heard the saying “lift with your legs, not your back,” but do you know why?

Your spine is actually a very complex structure that bends and rotates differently than any other joint.  The spine is comprised of 24 bones that protect the spinal cord, with shock-absorbing discs in between the bones; a multitude of muscles and ligaments also help support the back. 

The natural position of the spine is to be “S” shaped; however bending at your waist puts your spine in a “C” shape. Your discs are kind of like little jelly donuts. If you compress the discs on one side, the jelly moves to the opposite side; this can cause a disc herniation, as does twisting with your feel planted. 

Did you know? Bending with your legs straight and rounding your spine puts 10 times more force through your lower back. Example, if you were lifting a 40# box with bad form that would put 400 pounds of force through your back! Ouch!

According to the American Chiropractic Association, “Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.” ( )

Let’s review the steps to proper lifting to keep your back safe:

  1. Stand close to the object with your heels shoulder width apart. It is OK if your toes are pointing in or out as long as your heels are shoulder width. Think of your legs like a pyramid and having a wide base of support.
  2. Pull your abdominal muscles in like you are trying to get a pair of pants on that are too small.
  3. Bend your knees and hips with your arms straight down to reach the object.
  4. Keep your head and neck in good alignment by looking straight ahead.
  5. Grasp the object with a good grip and stand up by straightening your legs, keeping the object close to you. 

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