How to Lift Boxes to Avoid Injury

Lift heavy objects safely during a move

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), using the right techniques when lifting can help you avoid injuries like sprains and pulled muscles. Watch the video below for an overview of lifting boxes, then use the step-by-step instructions to learn how to properly pick up other heavy objects. 

Person safely lifting a moving box.


How to pick up a box 


  1. Stand close to the box with your feet hip-width apart and firmly planted on the ground. If you need more stability, you can slightly stagger your feet with one a little more in front. 

  2. Kneel down on one knee.   

  3. Use both hands to grip the base of the box and lift it to belly button height. Avoid carrying anything above your shoulders or head. 

  4. Stand up slowly, keeping your back straight and shoulders back. Use your legs to stand and avoid bending at the waist or hips. 

  5. Take small, slow steps while carrying and be sure to change directions with your feet instead of twisting. 

  6. Set the box down like you picked it up (keeping your back straight and kneeling on one knee). 

  7.  Gently release the box to the ground and stand up. 

Tips for lifting something heavy 

  • Get help. Ask friends or relatives to assist you, grab a moving dolly or hire loading help.   

  • Wear the right clothes. You want comfortable but fitted items and closed-toe shoes.  You might also want a back brace to maintain good posture while lifting and gloves to protect your hands.  

  • Warm-up. Just like you would warm-up for a workout, it’s a good idea to do some light movement before picking up anything heavy. Do some dynamic stretching, where you move as you limber up.  

  • Clear a path. Make sure you have a clear walkway, being mindful of stairs and doorways. And make a plan for where you’re putting the box to avoid holding it too long.  

  • Check boxes. Before carrying a box, lift a corner to test the weight. If it seems too heavy to lift alone, either repack the box and redistribute the weight or use a dolly. Best practice is to keep boxes under 40 lbs.  

Get other moving tips 

Now that you know how to lift heavy things make sure you’re ready to load them correctly. Use our loading tips to make sure everything gets stacked in the moving equipment well. 

If you have any questions about lifting or loading things, let us know in the comments below!