• Dr. Monica Ngo

Lifting Techniques to Protect Your Spine - Chiropractic Guide

Updated: Nov 29

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Many people think that they can lift heavy objects correctly and securely. It can therefore come as an unwelcome surprise that during a "simple" lift, you hurt your back. A natural response may be to think, "But I even bent my knees", after suffering back pain from a lift. There is, in fact, more to proper lifting technique than simply bending your knees. Let’s examine some important aspects of lifting heavier objects.



Lifting Techniques to Protect Your Spine


Proper lifting techniques to protect your spine


Preventive measures during lifting may not protect against back pain entirely, but understanding appropriate lifting methods can certainly play a role in preventing back damage. The next time big lifts are on your schedule, we have some suggestions to help keep your back free from injury.


Tips and techniques for lifting


Think Before lifting. Before lifting, test the item. If it feels unstable, reposition it, to avoid surprise movement during the lift. Think about the object’s end location, planning your path. Remember, you should be bending your knees and hips – not your back. Lift using your arms and legs, lift with smooth, gradual motion, as opposed to a quick jerk.


Stand firmly on your feet, approximately shoulder-width apart. This position helps you get your heart moving when lifting, and warns and reminds you not to twist.


Keep your chest forward. Always maintain your back straight, and arrange your body to safeguard your lower back as you lift the object, your chest forward. Most individuals understand the need to straighten their knees when they lift, but keep in mind that your bent knees may be susceptible to injury from this position also.


Never twist. Twisting when you lift may cause you significant back damage, particularly when the item is heavy. Keeping your shoulders in line with your hips is the best way to keep from twisting. When carrying the item, lead with your hips, rather than with your shoulders.


Keep lifted objects close to your body. The further away from your body, you hold an item, the more force passes through the lower back. Holding a bowling ball at your chest, for example, is much easier, and less taxing on the back, than holding it at arm’s length. Holding items near your centre of gravity lowers your chance of injury and damage to your back.


Know your limitations. Before big items are lifted, warm up. Stretch and prepare for the lift. Remember to vary your lifting with lighter objects between the heavier ones; take short pauses between major lifts. If an object seems too heavy for you to lift alone, don’t attempt it - get help.


Do not bend your waist, use the legs - it works best to lift heavier objects using your legs when you can straddle your item. Squat, do not lean back - as you lift the object, use your leg strength to lift, and maintain your back upright.


How to protect your back when lifting

How to protect your back when lifting


One of the easiest ways to protect the back is to regulate your breathing. When weight lifting and exercise are difficult, individuals tend to breathe at a heavier, faster rate.


Another typical response is also to hang on to your breath when your body is strained. But slowing and holding on to your breath while lifting takes away the oxygen that is required to expand your muscles.


Since your mind is on the object you have to lift, you may not be thinking about your breathing. Keep in mind that regular, steady inhaling and exhaling will assist your lift.


Fixed breathing will also facilitate the lifting of your body. This will make it lift the object, and you will be less likely to stop regular inhalation and exhalation, or make sudden twisting motions, or place strain on incorrect body parts or muscles.


You should concentrate on the following in any weight lifting process to ensure that your form is correct:


  • Ensure that your neck is always aligned with your spine.

  • Ensure that your back is straight and never bent or twisted.

  • Keep your hips and back extended so that your shoulders and neck are not crunched.

  • Maintain knees in a slightly bent and relaxed position.

  • Pull your core into your spinal cord and pull your pelvis inward.


Any strong lifting movement involves your back. To protect your lower back, it is essential to squeeze your glutes when lifting. Your glutes are one of your body's strongest muscle groups. When you contract those muscles, you safeguard the region between your sacral and lumbar portion of the lower back. This action ensures that your lumbar region moves together, and your hips move together.


It's essential to compress your glutes when you work out, especially with activities like deadlifts, squats, boards, and even pushups. In fact, it is safe to say that squeezing cheeks should be included with every exercise that involves legs, butt, lower back, and even lower abs.


The focus on how you use your back, hamstrings, spine, and legs during lifting is vital, to ensure that your back is protected. In addition, proper stretching, even if it’s just once a week, can be a help to your back and body health.


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