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The 10 commandments of lifting


Back pain is often the result of an injury, lifting something incorrectly, falling, or over use. Consistent use of proper body mechanics can go a long way toward preventing back pain.

To avoid injury and strain, obey the 10 Commandments for Body Mechanics:

  1. Use a wide base of support. Keep your feet apart – one foot pointing the direction you are lifting, and the other pointing in the direction you will be turning towards. This way you can pivot using your hips and weight shifting, rather than twisting your spine.
  2. Keep the object close to you. Don’t worry about getting dirty; your clothes can be washed! Whether you are lifting people or objects, get as close as possible to the object you plan to lift. The farther away the object it is from your body, the heavier it is, and the greater strain on your back.
  3. Do not twist on a loaded spine! When you have the object in your arms, weight shift from one foot to another to turn, rather than twisting the spine (See added technique in commandment 1). Twisting with weight is a formula for a rupturing a disc.
  4. Keep the object as close to waist height as possible. Keeping the weight at your center of gravity allows you to conserve energy and maintain stability during the lift.
  5. Maintain your lumbar curve. Don’t flatten or round your low back when lifting. Maintaining your backs natural curve allows the bones and muscles to work the most efficiently. Keep your core tight (while still breathing) to help support the curve.
  6. Use your legs. Your quads, hamstrings, and gluteal (butt) musculature are much bigger than most back muscles, and can provide greater force compared to your back muscles. Keep your knees and hips bent.
  7. Communicate! And ASK FOR HELP! Count – 1,2,3. It will help you work as a unit. This is important if what you are lifting is a person, and if you are helping someone else lift.
  8. Test it first. Sometimes an object is way heavier than it looks, sometimes it is lighter. Test if first!
  9. Push, not pull whenever possible.
  10. Use smooth, controlled movements, do not jerk.


Dr. Cheryl Jeane, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist with Triton Healthcare in Denham Springs. For more information about physical therapy services, contact her at 225-791-8666, email, or visit


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