Lifting techniques for all scenarios

lifting-boxesAt one point or another, I’m sure you have been told to “lift with your knees!” or “protect your back!” But sometimes it’s not as easy as just bending at the knees, especially around the house. If 1 out of 3 workplace injuries are as a result of poor manual handling techniques, you can only imagine how many more injuries are sustained around the house! For simple lifting techniques, read my previous post Quick Tips In Lifting here. The following tips will aid you in correct lifting techniques that support your lower back through different lifting scenarios.

1. Turning

So you’ve lifted your heavy object correctly (well done!) and you are transporting it to another location. The key here is to always turn with your feet. Never twist at your waist when carrying a heavy object!

2. Pushing

I always find pushing heavy objects the hardest, especially if it’s a full grocery trolley! The key here is to brace your stomach muscles, keeping a straight back with your shoulders rolled back and down. Make sure the pathway ahead is clear so you can minimize weaving movements. Keep your elbows close to your body and push with and even force.

3. Reaching up

For example, reaching into the pantry to pull down that 1kg bag of flour for the cake you are making. This is a hard one, because at the point you need to reach for the item, you put your back into a slight compromised position. The best thing to do here is to raise yourself up to the level of the item, on either a step or a small ladder. Make sure you are front on to your item so there is limited twisting, and brace your core stomach muscles. Grab your item with both hands and bring that item close to your body.

4. Reaching down and lifting

For example, lifting your groceries out of the shopping trolley. This scenario can also apply to getting the washing out of top loader washing machines or picking up bubs out of the cot. The trick here is to have a slight bend in the knees, and, keeping your back straight, bend forward through the hips (not the waist!).

5. Carrying weight to your side

For example shopping bags or briefcases. When lifting anything to your side, use a partial squat instead of a full squat. In the case of shopping bags, try to even out the load on both sides. Avoid dragging your bags along the ground by ensuring your arms are clear to hang by your sides!

6. Handling weight at a low height

For example, getting washing out of front loader washing machines and dryers. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that my advice here is not to bend forward at your waist but to instead kneel on one knee, like you are proposing to the washing machine! Make sure you are as close to the machine as possible to limit awkward reaching.


  1. USDA. Safe lifting technique. USA: [updated 2015 March 9; cited 2015 March 10]. Avail from:
  1. AdvanceOHS. Correct lifting techniques. NSW: AdvanceOHS; [cited 2015 March 10]. Avail from:

This article is for information purposes only. Please consult your Osteopath or primary healthcare professional for further information.

Written by Elise Fuller

Elise Fuller

Dr Elise Fuller graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Complimentary Medicine) and a Masters of Osteopathy. She is currently practicing in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and in her spare time writes articles for her blog, inspired by her experience treating patients and from life in general!