How to Lift a Heavy Object Safely

Using the proper technique when moving boxes, heavy furniture, or other objects will greatly reduce the risk of injury and soreness. Jobs that require you to consistently move heavy objects especially require that you learn and consistently use the proper technique to keep yourself safe, each and every time.


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    Take some time to examine the object that you will move. Test the item's weight by picking up one corner of the item, or push it with your foot to gauge if you need another person, dolly or other form of equipment to pick up the object. Will it be too heavy for you to lift without help?
    • Take some time to examine boxes you might be moving for holes or other weak spots that might fall out while you're carrying. Is there anything that might shift, causing an imbalance?
    • Is the object slippery, or difficult to get a grip on? You might consider using some tacky-grip moving gloves to help make the move safely, with a secure grip on the object.
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    Map out a safe route. If you're carrying the item somewhere, make sure there's nothing in your way. Remove any obstacles, toys or other objects you may trip over on the route to your destination. Be aware of stairs or uneven floors, as well.[1]
    • Even if you're not having someone help you carry the object itself, it's helpful to have a spotter, who can tell you when you're getting close to doorways or other obstacles, especially if the object obscures your vision in any way.
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    Stand close to the load that you have to carry. With your feet placed shoulder-width apart, tighten your abdominal muscles and bend your knees and hips to get into a squatting position. Look straight ahead, keeping your head back to complete the proper lifting form.
    • Arrange or gather the object so that it will not slip, move, or change its balance when you lift it. Grip the object while in squatting position.
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    Drive up with your heels. When you've got a hold of the object, keep it close to your body, and push up, straightening your knees into a standing position, maintaining a straight back.
    • It's very important to keep your back straight and to drive up from your heels, not from your toes or the balls of your feet, which can cause you to lose your balance, as well as putting strain on your knees.
    • Look up while lifting. By looking up, you will position your spine in a way that reduces the opportunity for injury.
    • Never jerk upright, or yank on the object to lift it. Go slowly. You can seriously injure your back, knees, or arms by trying to go too fast.
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    Carry or hold the item. Depending on the situation, you may need to carry the object to a new location or hold it in one position for a length of time.
    • Bend your knees slightly as you carry the item. Take small steps and change direction by pivoting your feet. If you're standing, keep your knees bent and control your breathing with deep, rhythmic breaths so you don't get dizzy.
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    Put the item down. Return to the squatting position using your leg muscles, not your back muscles. Keep your back straight.
    • Make sure to continue holding the item close to your body as you lower it in its place. You can strain your arm muscles and lose your balance, or drop the object, if you start letting it shift around as you prepare to set it down. Set it down gently.


  • Wear flat shoes or shoes with low heels (1 inch or lower).
  • Lift with your knees, not your back!
  • Use sturdy shoes with a good tread. All the weight will be on your legs, which are strong muscles, and by extension on your feet. Good shoes will help to prevent accidents.
  • Lift by 1) bending at the hips or 2) bending at the hips and knees. Keep your spine straight in both instances and track you knees over your feet (when lifting the second way). When lifting a heavy object, in general, keep your feet flat on the floor and space them shoulder width apart. Lift by bending just at the hips is not wrong, although it could give you a back muscle ache. Lower back pain will be from your hip extensors.
  • If the object you wish to lift does not have a good place to grasp it, construct one for it. It is better to take some time now making a handle for the object than to take more time later trying to relieve an injured back.
  • Exercise regularly. An inactive lifestyle contributes to lower back pain.
  • Push the load then rather pull when you must move heavy objects.
  • Don't strain yourself. Sometimes an object is simply too heavy for you to lift. Accept that this is okay, and don't try to lift it anyway.
  • If you must sit at your desk or at the wheel of a car or truck for long hours, break up the time with stops to stretch.
  • Heavy is a relative term, but in general any object that you can lift off the floor with a vertical, straight upper back is light. This article is for lifting a light object safely and is useful if you have an excruciating backache from lifting objects by bending only at the hips.
  • Proper form and techniques are learned when the conditions from which they are developed are extreme. When lifting a light object, your form can be perfect or imperfect, but when lifting heavier objects your form must be better to prevent injury. A mother lifting a toddler repeatedly versus a caregiver lifting a big patient is a good example of light and heavy. Use the form for lifting heavy object for a light object.
  • If the object contains liquid, try to keep from jiggling it too much, it might spill onto your face. The motion of the liquid can create force that apparently exceeds the weight, causing you to spill it.
  • Proceed slowly. Of course by making a great effort you can lift heavier objects, but it is also certain that this extra force can cause serious damage to your back.


  • If for any reason you cannot lift the object using these techniques, you should get help, either from another person or from a mechanical lifting device.

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Categories: Back and Joint Care