Moving and Lifting Tips - Breakaway Physical Therapy
Shaina Clemons Health Tips

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Moving and Lifting Tips


There is so much moving going around these days with lots of houses on the market and many people looking to find a better fit for their family. Some are looking for more space, others are looking for a bigger backyard and more are looking to find the perfect spot for their home since work can be done virtually more than ever before.

For those that are staying put in their homes, they could be spending time rearranging their family room or kitchen to maximize space, painting the walls a new color and changing the décor.

With all the talk of moving and rearranging furniture, a friend told me recently about these moving straps that she had used in the past to move a fridge. My first thought was, wait…you moved a fridge and didn’t injure your body after that?! That sounds unbelievable!

So then I went to researching and figuring out what these moving straps are all about?! After some perusing the internet, including all the hardware stores, my husband and I found some great reviews and knew that we had to try them. We didn’t have anything to loose.

Wow…we could not believe how amazing they are!! Ok so let me tell you how to use them…

You put the two straps under the piece of furniture that you are planning to move and then crisscross them underneath to make sure that they don’t slide out while you are in transit.

Then, you put on your harness and your moving partner does the same thing. Attach the straps that are under the furniture to your harness on the hook that best fits how close you need to be to the furniture.

So now you will be in a position where you are squatting down, but then you will stand up lifting from your knees. Now make sure that you AND your partner is ready to lift to make sure that you don’t hurt yourself. You will not believe the weight of the furniture or lack of weight of the furniture that you can lift with your body and a friend, it is amazing and unbelievable!!

This got me to thinking about how often in life we are moving, rearranging our house and stressing about injuring our body in the process. So what are some tips to protect your back and spine while moving?! I always want my patients, friends and family to protect their spine and prevent an injury, this is no different.

There are many principles to lifting and you may feel like you have already heard them all. But it never hurts to be reminded of the safe ways to move your body when you are carrying a heavy, moderate or even a light load.

Our bodies are meant to move and work…think back to the olden days when people worked on a farm all day. They used their bodies for everything- lifting, squatting, taking care of the animals and crops on the farm and more!

Well maybe most of us are not working on a farm everyday if you are living in a city and spending your days in an office chair. BUT our bodies are still meant to move, and it is still essential that we protect our spine to prevent spending our days hurting or worse – not being able to move!

So, let’s get to the tips on moving that will help you keep your back and spine safe from injury:

1) Lift With Your Knees

  • When you bend down to pick anything up, bend at your knees and NOT at your waist so that your legs will do the work instead of your back
  • This is one of the most essential tips so that you don’t hurt your back

2) Use a Wide Base of Support

  • Place your feet around the furniture or object that you are attempting to lift for easier balancing
  • Your feet being farther apart will allow you to displace the weight around the furniture and make sure that your whole body is doing the lifting

3) Keep Your Back Straight

  • The biggest way to risk injuring your back is to not keep it straight when lifting
  • Ask a friend to look at your alignment to make sure that you are not about to injure yourself before you stand up tall or check out your alignment in a mirror

4) Use Your Abdominals

  • You know the muscles on the inside of your hip bones that we are always trying to strengthen and improve, find those abdominal muscles
  • Contract your abdominals before you lift to activate muscles around the entire spine
  • If you want more information about how to strengthen and stabilize your abdominals, send me an email at for more information on how physical therapy can make a difference in your life

5) Breathe While You Lift and do NOT Hold Your Breath

  • When you are preparing to lift, take a deep breath in to get set and ready
  • Slowly exhale as you lift the item to protect your pelvis and entire system (I always tell my patients, move on the exhale)

6) Don’t Twist Your Back When Moving, MOVE Your FEET

  • Move your feet when needing to twist around a corner instead of your back
  • Twist on your feet by pivoting on the balls of your feet when needed

7) Keep all Items Close to Your Body and Abdomen

  • This will reduce the strain on your spine by keeping things close

8) Phone a friend

  • Find a good friend that can help so that the weight of anything that you are moving is not put only on your body, but able to be displaced on more than one person

9) Check the Weight of the Item Before You Move it

  • Do a practice lift so that you are able to make sure that this is something that you can move wherever you are heading (recognize the limits of your body)
  • If it’s too heavy to be able to safely move, refer back to #8

10) Wear Proper Footwear

  • Make sure that you are wearing socks and tennis shoes (not flip flops) so that they stay on your feet while you are moving heavy items in your home
  • If you are looking for more supportive footwear, come by the office to stand on our Foot Levelers kiosk to check the pressure that you put on your feet and recommend the best orthotics for ALL shoes

11) Make Sure That You Are Well Rested Before Moving Heavy Items

  • The last thing that you would want is to drop an item because you were so exhausted before moving

12) Warm-up before moving

  • Make sure that your muscles are not cold before moving any items in your house and do a quick warm-up
  • Marching in place, jumping jacks, arm circles, a short walk and more will make sure that your muscles are warm and ready to be stressed

13) Ice Your Body at the End of Your Moving Adventures to Prevent Any Back Pain, Neck Pain and More

  • Ice will help to reduce any inflammation that may flare-up from lifting heavy items or twisting movements that our spine does not like
  • Marching in place, jumping jacks, arm circles, a short walk and more will make sure that your muscles are warm and ready to be stressed

14) Hydrate

  • This may sound silly as you are unsure how water plays into moving, but our body is fueled by what we drink and even eat throughout the day
  • If you are spending your day moving and lifting furniture, you must drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water.
  • Water will hydrate your cells, provide energy, prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of injury!

So there you have it, 14 tips to prevent injury and protect your body whether you are moving a whole household, helping a friend move a couch or rearrange your own house to make things more organized.

We only get one body and it’s important that we protect it from all the challenging things that do each day.

If you are looking for more specialized and personalized advice on how to lift without injuring YOUR back, then give us a call to schedule a FREE Breakthrough visit at 410-721-6333 where you can sit down and talk with one of our trained professionals, the movement experts.

Physical therapists specialize in hands-on care to help patients prevent injury and recover faster if you do get hurt while lifting and moving things. It’s important to be followed by your neighborhood PT to make sure that your muscles are strong and ready to tackle anything. Just like the dentist, you should check-in with your PT every 6 months to have a quick chat about how your body and muscles are doing.

Preventative care is essential to take care of our body and now we need to make sure that our entire body is in tip top shape to take care of our everyday challenges.

Shaina Clemons

Shaina Clemons

Shaina is the founder and owner of Breakaway Physical Therapy.  She received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland Baltimore, along with a Bachelor's degree from Towson University.   Shaina is an Ironman triathlete, with a love of all sports. Exercise is her passion, which plays an important role in both her personal and professional life.  In her free time, Shaina enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children.  Shaina's love of snowboarding led her to her career choice many years ago. 
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