Are You Lifting the Correct Way?

3 “checks” to ensure you are lifting properly.

What do people always say when you are lifting a heavy box? “Lift with your legs, lift with your legs, lift with your legs.” Which is absolutely correct! Yet most people think they are lifting with their legs but are merely just bending their knees. Many individuals are still lifting more with their back than their legs. Here I will present to you some additional cues to pay attention to, a checklist, that will save your back when you are doing anything that requires you to bend your knees, and hips.    

1) Feel the weight in your feet!

However heavy the object, you should feel that amount of weight be transferred into your feet. If the weight is in your feet you at least have a chance of using your legs. I like to say, “make your feet feel heavy.” There will be a short exercise at the end that will help you combine this step and one other.

Is your weight through your feet? CHECK!

2) Feel the force production in your leg muscles as your lift

This is the most important step that allows you to use your legs during the lift. If you pay attention to the way your muscles act when you generate any significant motion, you should feel an emphasis in the muscles that are working. When you lift, you should feel the legs as the primary area that generates the movement and you should only feel a very little stress into your back. If you feel an emphasis of work going into your back, think about pushing harder than you think is necessary through your legs. Just bending your knees is not enough.

Do you feel your leg muscles turning on? CHECK!

3) If you can get the object closer to you, GET IT CLOSER

The further the object is from your body the more you have the laws of physics working against you. Every inch counts, seriously!

Try this for an exercise. Grab something under 4 pounds (maybe your laptop) bring it close to your body, touching your abdomen, then straighten your arms. Feel how your back must work harder, and also feel how the weight will also shift into a different part of your feet. This applies both tips 1 and 3 to be able to sense where the weight of the object you are holding is going to.

Are you as close to the object as possible? CHECK!



If you follow each of these 3 steps and feel the weight of whatever object into the appropriate areas, you will be much more successful with your lifting that will keep you back and the rest of you safe.


Authored By: Dr. Garrett Petry PT, DPT, CFMT


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