WPPCs Guide to Safe Lifting

Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre

“Do Not Lift with your Back, Lift with your Legs”

Bending or lifting can strain or even injure your back. To minimise the risk of an injury you should ensure the load you are lifting is safe and that you are using a good lifting technique.

In addition to the steps found below, there are other things you can do to help yourself when lifting:

  • Warm up cold muscles thoroughly before engaging in any manual work.
  • Use mechanical aids or get help to lift and carry heavy loads whenever possible.
  • Take frequent breaks or break up repetitive tasks if possible.
  • With repetitive tasks involving a single arm, try and alternate the arm you use.
  • Cool down after heavy work with gentle, sustained stretches.
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen muscles and ligaments.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce stress on bones and muscles.
  • Wear appropriate footwear to minimise stress on joints and the spine.
  • Seek assistance from your doctor or physiotherapist if lifting is causing pain.

Steps for a Safe Lift

Plan Your Move

Size up the load and make sure your path is clear.

**Do not attempt to lift the load alone if it is too heavy or awkward. Seek assistance!

Maintain the Correct Posture

Keep back straight and vertical to the ground upon lifting. Keeping your head up and looking straight ahead will assist to maintain this position.

Use Your Knees!

Bend knees when lifting; do not stoop over the object.

Bring the Object in Close

Always bring the object as close to the body as possible.

**There is less strain on the body if the load is closer.

Support Your Spine

Tighten stomach muscles to help the back stay in balance.

**The correct abdominal muscles can be activated by drawing your belly-button in and up towards your spine.

Take Precaution When Lowering the Object

Be careful when putting the object down; follow the same guidelines as you would for lifting.

Lower Material Slowly and Smoothly

When lowering a load onto a deep shelf, put it on the edge of the shelf and push it into place.

Push rather than pull

**Research demonstrates that people can usually exert higher push forces than pull forces.

Make it a habit to follow the above steps when lifting anything even a relatively light object!

Lifting Do’s and Don’t


  • Twist your back when lifting
  • Lift with your knees and hips straight.
  • Tense or twist your neck when lifting.
  • Lift with your feet close together as it can result in poor leverage, instability, and a tendency to round your back.
  • Lift objects that are too heavy for you.


  • Place your feet and knees at least shoulder width apart or front to back in a wide-step position.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Ask for assistance with objects that are heavy or awkward.
  • Where possible, use mechanical equipment to move heavy items.