Tips and techniques for safe lifting

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Shaundana Vernon
  • 82nd Training Wing Safety
Lifting doesn't have to be a dangerous proposition, even when it's done regularly at work or at home.

As long as you know the facts about correct lifting and bending techniques, you can protect your back from unnecessary added stress and possible injury.

Everyone puts a lot of stress on their backs every day from the process of bending and lifting-even those people who don't have a job that requires frequent heavy lifting.

Think of how many times a day you bend down to pick something up: laundry, your pet, a piece of paper, etc. Continued bad form when lifting, even something small, can cause unneeded stress on your back and make it more prone to injury.

Here are a few do's and don'ts:


- Don't lift things when your feet are too close together. If your feet are closer than shoulder width, you'll have poor leverage, you'll be unstable and you'll have a tendency to round your back.

- Don't lift with your knees and hips straight and your lower back rounded. This is the most common and stressful bad lifting move. Twisting the trunk of the body during this bad move compounds the problem.

- Don't tense and arch the neck when lifting. This crams your neck joints together and causes pain, especially if maintained for a long period of time.

- Don't lift and/or carry an unbalanced load.

- Don't lift and bend too much in a short period of time.

- Don't lift objects that are too heavy for you.

- Don't lift heavy objects directly following a sustained period of sitting, especially if you have been slouching.

- Don't lift things overhead with your neck and back arched, if possible.


- Do place your feet and knees at least shoulder width apart or front to back in a wide-step position. This will help you bend at the hips, keeping your back relatively straight and stress free.

- Do lean over or squat with the chest and buttocks sticking out. If you do this correctly, your back will be flat and your neck will balance in a relaxed neutral position.

- Do take weight off one or both arms if possible. When you squat down or push back up, use your hand or elbow as support on your thigh or any available structure. This takes some of the compression and strain off of the lower back.

- Do balance your load on either side if possible, or switch sides so that both sides are equally stressed.

- Do level the pelvis or tuck in your buttocks and suck in your abdomen, when reaching or lifting overhead. Keep your chest up and use a step stool to keep the low back and neck in neutral alignment.

- Do walk around and use backward-bending and/or stomach-lying positions before or after bending or heavy lifting, especially if you've been sitting for a while.

(Information provided courtesy of