You can avoid lower back injuries at work and at home with these tips for lifting objects properly.

Sometimes all it takes is one wrong move to hurt your back. One minute you’re smiling as your 8-year-old niece runs up to hug you, and the next thing you know, you’re grimacing in pain after picking her up in your arms.

There are many things you do every day – from carrying kids to picking up groceries – that can potentially hurt your back if you don’t use proper body mechanics or techniques when you lift.

One of the most common causes of lower back pain is picking up too much weight. For many people, that’s around 50 pounds, but it could be a lot less. This is the main cause of work-related lifting injuries but it can also happen at home.

To keep your back healthy, it’s important to get regular exercise. This will help strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility. You can also help prevent injuries by following these 7 tips for lifting smart:

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Tips for Lifting Smart

1. Think first. Look at what you’re about to lift and assess whether you can do it safely. If you’re not sure, ask for help.

2. Share the load. If an object weighs more than 50 pounds (or less if it’s too heavy for you) or it is awkward to lift, get someone to help you pick it up.

3. Face the object directly. Never twist your body while you are lifting because the twisting motion can strain your muscles.

4. Lift with your legs, not with your back. Keep your back straight and bend your knees as you pick up an object and return to an upright position. Don’t bend at the waist to pick up an object.

5. Secure the object well. Use both hands and hold the object firmly.

6. Move cautiously. When walking with an object in your hands, move slowly and keep the weight centered directly in front of you, close to your body.

7. Place it down gently. Bend your knees and don’t lean forward as you lower an object to the ground or another location. Take your time and don’t drop the object abruptly.

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