Back Safety Tips: Lifting Objects In and Out of Cars

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By CMCC
Published on July 17, 2014

Back Safety

Loading and unloading your car: Whether you drive for work or for pleasure, chances are at some point you will be loading your car trunk with groceries, suitcases, boxes, and all sorts of items which you will also have to remove from the trunk.

We all know someone who has hurt or strained their back while lifting something out of the trunk of their car. Proper lifting techniques can go a long way to decrease the chance of injuring your back and help prevent these pains and strains.

General points to remember:

  • Before you start, check the weight of the items you need to lift.
  • Keep your spine in a neutral position at all times.
  • Do not rotate or twist from your waist – keep you “Nose between toes”.
  • Lift only once the object is as close to your body as possible.
  • Always plan ahead – distributing the weight in the objects you need to lift will be useful. Check for handles on boxes or objects and use them whenever possible.
  • Take it slow – quick, abrupt movements can lead to injury.

Key points for loading items into the trunk

  • When loading your car, remember to lift with your knees, not your back and keep knees bent while lifting. The spine should remain neutral.
  • When placing items in the trunk, brace yourself if possible with your leg on the bumper or your arm against the side of the car to help stabilize you and take some of the weight of the object.  Rest the object on the ledge of the trunk before sliding the box or item into the trunk.   If possible, secure the item so it does not shift during travel.

 

Getting things in the trunk is usually the easy part, it’s taking them out that can often cause strain, pain and injuries on your back. We all know someone who as hurt their back while lifting something out of the car.

Key points for lifting items OUT of the trunk

Stand as close as you can to the bumper with your knees slightly bent.

  • Use the bracing technique as described above.
  • Do not bend, but push out your back end.
  • If the object is stable (such as a box) lean your legs against the object for support.
  • Lower yourself down to the object with your legs and hips.
  • Grasp object with both hands. If you have access to a handle, use it.
  • Look forward not down.
  • Lift upwards following your head and shoulders.
  • If the object is heavy, rest it on the trunk ledge before you lift it further.
  • Hold the load close to your body.
  • Breathe in and lift by extending your legs and keep your back straight with your back end out and breathe out as you lift.

Objects that are heavy and deep in the trunk

  • Place your leg on the bumper, knee bent and stick out your back end. Reach in and bring the item forward towards the opening of the trunk. Brace yourself against the car with your hand if you can.
  • Slowly lift the object with one or both hands and let it rest on the ledge of the trunk.
  • Place your leg back down on the ground and lift upwards with your head and shoulders.
  • Hold the load close to your body.
  • Breathe in and lift by extending your legs and keep your back straight with your back end out and breathe out as you lift.

 

Getting a heavy item out of the trunk of a car can challenge safe lifting practices. So think twice before placing it there in the first place. If you must get an item from the car trunk, do it yourself only if you can keep your back in a safe, neutral position. If not, get help.

 

Peter S.Y. Kim BSc, DC, FCCS

Associate Professor, Director of Development and Clinical Advancement,

Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

CMCC Campus Clinic, 6100 Leslie Street, Toronto, ON