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Proper Body Mechanics for Lifting

Lifting is part of what you do every day. Whether you work at a lifting job or take a trip to the grocery story, you'll lift something up. Avoid hurting yourself doing every day tasks such as lifting your baby into a car seat by using techniques that employ proper lifting mechanics. These proper mechanics for lifting require understanding how your body works together. Once you know the proper body mechanics, you can avoid injury and maintain proper posture.

Step 1

Maintain a "neutral spine." This means keeping the natural curvature of the spine while lifting. To practice maintaining a neutral spine, place a long stick, such as a yardstick or broom handle, behind your back from your head to your tailbone, advises Jeanne Markusic, Clinical Specialist at the Cleveland Clinic and contributor to the Spine Universe website. Bow at the waist while keeping the stick behind your back. The stick should maintain contact with your tailbone and head throughout your bend. When you lift, keep the same back posture as if the stick was behind your back.

Step 2

Place your feet shoulder width apart before beginning the lift. Keeping your feet close together reduces lateral stability, which can lead to twisting your back during a lift to keep your balance. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart increases stability and provides a firm foundation for supporting your body weight and the weight of lifted objects, according to the Orthopedics International website.

Step 3

Bend at the knees and hips to grasp the object. According to Markusic, you should squat rather than bending in a kneeling motion. In a kneeling bend, the knees move far forward, as if you were going to touch them on the ground. In a squatting bend, the knees stay closer to vertical alignment with the feet. If possible, your knees should not be farther forward than your feet, advises Markusic.

Step 4

Pull the object close to your body, advises Markusic. Keeping the item close to your body maintains your center of gravity, so you don't strain your back muscles while lifting. It also helps prevent falls while lifting heavy objects.

Step 5

Lift using your leg, buttocks and abdominal muscles, rather than using the back muscles. Avoid lifting heavy objects above your waist to maintain your center of gravity.

Items you will need

  • Yardstick or broom handle

Tips

  • Assess the size and weight of an object before lifting it, advises Markusic. You can test the weight of an object by pushing it with your foot. If you determine that the object is too heavy to lift by yourself, find another person to help you lift and carry it.
  • If you are unable to maintain neutral spine because of lack of muscle flexibility, tighten your abdominal muscles as you bend to provide the greatest amount of support for the lower back.
  • Perform stretches before lifting if you have stiff muscles. This will help you execute proper lifting mechanics more easily, and can help reduce the risk of injuries.

Warning

  • Do not twist from your hips when lifting a heavy object, if possible--this typically occurs when you are trying to pick up an object that is not directly in front of you. Adjust your position so that the object is in front of you. Twisting your hips during a lift can cause injuries, particularly to the muscles in the lower back.

Photo Credits:

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.