Low back pain is a common complaint that affects 80% of the population. Commonly, people present for physiotherapy treatment with a back complaint completely unaware of the cause. Frequently patients report having recently been lifting or moving heavy items with what is thought to be the correct lifting technique. This can commonly cause either acute pain or exacerbate previous chronic episodes of back pain. Our physiotherapy Laura Scott highlights how to lift better and to prevent low back pain.

Why is it important to use proper lifting techniques?

Improper lifting techniques place excessive amounts of load through muscles, spinal structure and even intervertebral discs. Intervertebral discs are jelly-like structures that sit between two vertebrae to cushion and act as a shock absorber. Injuries can include overuse or strains to muscle, intervertebral disk herniations as well as damage to the joint capsule that individually surrounds each joint within the spine. Excessive curving through the lower back, a weak core and/or leg strength will likely increase the risk of injury.

Correct lifting techniques involve maintaining a straight back/neutral spine, bending at the knees and driving through legs to generate power. It is critical that you lift close to your body as this will ensure you stability and reduce the load/stress felt through your back. Similarly, it is crucial not to bend or twist whilst carry to avoid placing extra stress and load through structures.

The images below depicts the correct technique in which the movement is initiated at the hips with bend in the knees.

Are you lifting correctly

Correct lifting technique

What is the correct way to lift from the floor?

To lift correctly, follow these simple steps:

  • Set up your environment to ensure there is no clutter or awkward movements required
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart to ensure you have a solid base of support. It important to always turn at your feet opposed to your hips or shoulders.
  • Ensure you back remains straight as you initiate the movement by bending at your knees and driving your hips backwards. Don’t be afraid to let your chest come forwards whilst maintaining a straight back and head up.
  • Drive through your legs. Our legs are a lot bigger and stronger than our postural muscles that attach at the spine thus it is necessary to place the weight through your heels opposed to your toes as this will ensure you correctly engage the right muscles.
  • Engage you core. Think about drawing your belly button towards your spine whilst maintaining your breathing as you then begin to lift

If you are experiencing back pain as a result of a poor lifting technique, please book in to see one of our qualified physiotherapists as soon as possible. You can book online or call our friendly team.