50532989_MYou’ve probably heard the adage “lift with your legs, not with your back” a million times over the years. But what exactly does that mean?

Most injuries that occur while lifting come from improper technique. It may not happen right away, but why take the chance? And repeated improper lifting can cause harm over time. Of course, lifting with your legs will still use your back. That’s unavoidable, because your core — which includes the back — is involved in almost every movement we make. Getting your legs and core to work in tandem is what makes the technique so effective. Here’s a checklist of key points that will help keep you safe from injury:

  • Pull your abs in and engage your core.
  • Keep your back straight, no slouching over. Your knees should be doing the bending.
  • Allow your arms and legs to do the majority of the movement. Keep your trunk from twisting.
  • Try to get a sense of how heavy the object is — and your ability to lift it — before you try.
  • Stand with your feet apart.
  • Keep breathing normally.

If you are doing it right, it will feel like your legs are doing most of the exertion. If you feel any straining in your back, put the object down, make adjustments, and try again. And if you do end up with an injury, be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible so you can get back to mobility fast!