Lifting Correctly

  • Before lifting an object, stand back and assess it.
  • Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
  • Then get close to the object, place your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend down using your knees, not your back. The back should remain straight.
  • Consciously pull the stomach muscles in.
  • Take a firm grasp of the object, holding it close to your body.
  • Lift by straightening the legs, allowing the big muscles in your legs to do the work.
  • DO NOT use your back. Your back should remain straight and your stomach muscles should still be working. When carrying the object, turn by moving your feet, not your waist.
  • Put the object down by bending the knees.


  • An alternative to bending both knees in a squat to lift is to bend down and have one knee on the ground with the other bent. The body is still directly facing the object.
  • As you lift using your leg muscles, one leg will be behind the other.
  • Remember to still use your abdominals to help support the back.
  • This is a good option for people with knee problems or other issues which limit their ability to lift from a squat.


When lifting out of a car or other difficult area where you have to reach forward to reach the object, it is important to hold the stomach in and bring the object as close to your body as possible. Try to keep your feet wide to give you a good base of support and thus help with balance.

If you have to bend or twist for unusual locations, you must be very careful. It is important to know that you should never twist and straighten your spine at the same time. Your spine has different mechanics for twisting when it is bent and when it is straight. If you twist your back, always untwist before bending or straightening your back.

Tips for a Healthy Back

There is a lot you can do to ensure a healthy back well into the future: Take regular exercise e.g. swimming, walking stretching.

  • During repetitive tasks take frequent breaks or vary your activity
  • Bend the knees when reaching down or lifting, and carry weight close to the body not at arms length. Our backs are forklifts, not cranes! Remember to ask for help with lifting and carrying heavy or awkward items. See how to lift properly
  • Watch children’s posture. Carrying heavy school bags on one shoulder is a no-no.
  • Manage your weight – Increased weight will put extra strain on your spine and body. Plus Good nutrition will help the health of your tissues.
  • Make sure you have a good quality and supportive mattress and pillow – your bed could be part of the problem. Read more about sleeping positions
  • Do your best to make your workplace more ergonomically friendly. Avoid “computer slump.” Sit tall and breathe with the diaphragm. See how to set up your workstation
  • Quit smoking.
  • Consider your footwear – flatter, more cushioned shoes will decrease strain on your back. Read more about footwear
  • Have regular massage or osteopathic treatments to help keep your body functioning well. 

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Correct Footwear

  • Flat, broad shoes are best for your feet and back.
  • Shoes should have a support across the front of the ankle to help hold the shoe on.
  • Court shoes and high heels (especially narrow heels) should be avoided, as these are less stable are require your muscles to work much harder. High heels will also change the position of your spine to balance your centre of gravity.
  • Shoes should have a soft sole for cushioning.


Take a piece of paper and draw the outline of your foot on it (whilst standing). Now take your favourite pair of shoes and draw the outline of them over your foot outline. Is your foot bigger than your shoe? If so, your footwear is not good for your feet or your back.