Safe Lifting

Lifting injuries are a common cause of back pain. You can protect yourself against damage with good lifting habits, both at home and in the workplace.

How Lifting Can Injure Your Back
When you lift, your back is put under stress.
bullet Twisting or jerking while lifting and carrying can injure the small facet joints which guide movement of the back.
bullet The discs which separate the vertebrae (bones) and the ligaments which hold them together are also at risk. Discs are composed of a jelly-like core, surrounded by a strong fibrous ring. With repeated unsafe lifting, the fibrous ring or its supporting ligaments may tear or rupture.
bullet Lifting while bent forward will increase the stress on your spine. Contributing to this stress are factors like the weight of the load, how far it is held from your body, how often and how fast you lift and how long you hold the load.
Why Fitness Helps
Your physical condition is important. For example, stiff joints and muscles can reduce your ability to keep your back in a safe position as you lift. If your leg muscles are not very strong, you may find it hard to crouch down. Poor fitness will cause your muscles to tire, placing more stress on your spine.
How to liftBack injuries are most likely when the spine is bent forward and twisted at the same time.
Make Your Work Easier
bullet Always check the weight of the load and get help if necessary
bullet Wherever possible, lift and carry heavy items with a crane, hoist or forklift. Instead of carrying parcels, use a hand trolley.
bullet Repackage heavy articles to reduce the size and weight of individual loads.
bullet Wear comfortable clothing and flat, non-slip shoes.
bullet Store loads that you move regularly at waist height so that you don't have to bend your spine or lift overhead.
bullet Make sure that the pathway is clear.
Physiotherapists Can Help

Physiotherapists are experts in human movement. They understand how your muscles, bones, joints and ligaments work and how injuries happen. They can:
bullet show you how to prevent injury in your home or workplace
bullet teach you how to handle loads safely
bullet assess your muscle strength and fitness to design an appropriate fitness program
bullet treat muscle, joint and ligament injuries to ensure a speedy recovery
Avoid twisting. Turn by moving your feet. Not your back
Avoid twisting. Turn by moving your feet.
Not your back.
Contact Information

A doctor's referral is not required. Physiotherapists in private practice are listed in the Yellow Pages. Contact the Australian Physiotherapy Association in your state for a list of physiotherapists working in the occupational health field.

Safe Lifting Tips

One-Handed Lift
One-Handed Lift
Lifting in Confined Space

Lifting Overhead

APA Top of page

Move well. Stay well.
By courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association