How to Lift Boxes to Avoid Injury

The importance of properly lifting boxes

If you’ve ever felt back pain after lifting something heavy, you may have done it incorrectly. While it’s a simple mistake to make, it’s one you want to try to avoid — especially if you’ll be doing a lot of lifting. If you’re planning a move, learning the right way to lift boxes and heavy items can go a long way toward making the experience more enjoyable. After all, you don’t want to deal with back pain right in the middle of moving! Here are some tips for protecting your back from injury.

Note: If you have a history of back pain or injuries, consider asking friends or relatives to do the heavy lifting, or hire people to help.

Person safely lifting a moving box.


How to lift a box and other heavy objects

Learning how to lift boxes safely is a critical part of the loading process, but it’s also super easy to master! The trick is to lift with your knees, not your back. Here’s how to do it correctly:

  1. Examine and test the weight. Check the item’s shape, condition and contents, and then try picking up one corner to test the weight. If it seems too heavy to lift alone, ask a friend for help or use a moving dolly. We recommend keeping the weight of boxes under 40 pounds.
  2. Stand in the right position. Check your posture before lifting anything. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep one foot slightly in front of the other. Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight.
  3. Squat down. Bend at the knees and hips to lower yourself into a squatting position. If the box is extremely hefty, lower one knee directly onto the floor, while keeping the other knee bent at a right angle.
  4. Grip firmly. Use both hands to grip the base of the box or object tightly. Never carry anything with only one hand.
  5. Slowly start to stand. Keep your head and back straight and shoulders back, while gradually coming into a standing position. Hold the box or object close to your core, keeping it level with the belly button. Avoid carrying anything above your shoulders or head.
  6. Walk carefully. Take small, slow steps. When changing directions, use your feet instead of twisting around.

Check out this video to see those steps in action:


How to set down a heavy box or object

When it’s time to set the item down, bend your legs and kneel, keeping your back as straight as possible. Once the box is on the ground, release it and stand up.

Other tips for lifting things safely

Before tackling the task of lifting and loading all those boxes, read through these other helpful tips:

  • Stretch your legs, arms and back to prevent pulling muscles
  • Clear a safe path, and be mindful of stairs and uneven floors
  • Know exactly where you’re putting the box or item to prevent holding it too long
  • Wear non-slip, closed-toed shoes
  • Consider wearing a back brace to maintain good posture while lifting
  • Avoid turning or twisting while lifting and holding heavy items


Have questions about the proper way to lift heavy things? Leave a comment below, and we’ll answer shortly!