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How should I protect my back when lifting objects?

Rule of thumb for less back pain: Don't try to channel Hulk Hogan when hoisting that 50-lb. bag of dog food off the shelf. Use common sense -- and your legs, instead. Plus, err on the side of caution when determining how much weight you can safely and comfortably lift. If faced with lifting a particularly heavy load, break it up into lighter loads, use a dolly, or ask for help. Always keep your spine straight and your abs engaged, and let your legs do the lifting whenever moving objects from one place to another.
Follow these dos and don'ts when lifting objects to help prevent low back pain.

Dos:
  • Do lift and carry objects close to your body.
  • Do bend your knees as you lift -- make your legs do the hard work, not your back.
  • Do turn with your feet as you lift.
  • Do know your own strength. Lift only as much as you can handle comfortably.
Don'ts:
  • Don't lift objects away from your body, with arms outstretched.
  • Don't lift with your legs straight.
  • Don't lift and twist in one motion.
  • Don't lift objects that are too heavy for you.
To prevent injury when lifting objects, at all times avoid twisting. Learn more in this video with Dr. Rick McMichael of the American Chiropractic Association: 
 
Keep your back straight, engage your core muscles and bend at the knees when lifting an object. Let your legs do the work while keeping the object close to your body.

There are many simple things that can be done to prevent back injuries when lifting. Keep your back straight and do not let it round. Get close to the object you will be lifting, and set your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down by bending your knees to pick up the object, and hold the object close to the body at all times.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.