How to lift properly to avoid back pain

Improper lifting is frequently the source of acute low-back pain. Health-care workers are at particular risk for developing back pain if their daily routine includes lifting or moving patients. To learn how to prevent low-back pain among health-care workers, researchers from Denmark sought to investigate which lifting techniques are prone to producing pain in the lower back.

Female health care workers were asked to answer a questionnaire about their back pain. The survey addressed occupational lifting or carrying frequency (rarely, occasionally or frequently), load (low, moderate, heavy) and trunk posture (upright or forward bent).

Bending forward while picking up an object or patient made women 1.63 times more likely to develop persistent back pain. Frequent lifting of moderate to heavy loads also increased back-pain risk. In contrast, lifting or carrying light loads or lifting with an upright back decreased back-pain risk.

The results confirm that proper lifting techniques can go a long way in preventing persistent low-back pain. The authors recommended workers reduce frequent lifting and carrying of moderate to heavy loads and emphasized the importance of an upright back while lifting.

Article by China Star and Marissa Luck

Photo by Victor1558 via Creative Commons.


Holtermann A, et al. "Does occupational lifting and carrying among female health care workers contribute to an escalation of pain-day frequency?" Eur J Pain 2012; doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00175.x.