How to Lift Things – and Avoid Injury – this Holiday Season

This time of year you’re likely to be lifting lots of different things: heavy bags or platters of food, holiday decorations, gifts, clutter, shovels filled with snow*… the list goes on! It’s definitely not the time of year to lift something the wrong way and end up injured. Here are some ways to be sure you can tidy up, enjoy a great meal, decorate, clear your walk and help to stay injury-free and healthy.


Make Two (or more) Trips: It sounds like simple advice, but it works. If you can carry less weight/items with more than one trip, spend the few extra minutes to reduce your injury risk.

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Get Help: “Many hands make light work” – an old saying that’s accurate, especially when it comes to carrying stuff around the house. If you’re hauling stuff, ask for help from family members (if possible).


Distribute Weight Evenly: Whether you’re dragging boxes out of the basement, loading the car after cleaning out your closet, or just taking Thanksgiving groceries inside, try to spread the weight out evenly. You may end up needing more trips, but you’ll avoid carrying extra-heavy loads.


Lift With Your Legs: When you’re lifting (especially from the ground), lift using the strength of your legs and not your back. People often grab something and heave it up, using momentum and not the right muscles: which puts a huge strain on your back and can literally strain your back itself. Instead, be sure you tighten your core muscles and use your large leg muscles, including glutes and quads.


Go Slowly: If you’re in a hurry to get a meal out, or are rushing to get through some tedious cleaning, you may not pay attention to what you’re lifting or how you’re lifting it. Slow down and take it easy – your body will thank you.

Use a Cart or Dolly: Depending on what you’re moving, it may be wiser to use a cart or dolly. Some items may be more awkward than heavy, but this can force you into being unable to lift them using proper form and can lead to injury. Using a dolly or cart to help carry or move heavy or awkward items can help.


Pay Attention: This should go without saying, but it’s easy to get distracted and end up grabbing something or carrying it the wrong way. An injury only takes a second – but can take a lot longer to recover from, so pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re lifting or carrying something this season.


Stop if It Hurts: If you experience sharp, persistent pain or any pain that worries you while you’re lifting things, stop. If the pain persists and doesn’t respond to basic home treatment (ice, rest, elevation), or if you have other concerns, make an appointment with your Physical Therapist.


If you’re having trouble after lifting something, Body One Physical Therapy is here to help. With three locations serving Central Indianapolis, and early/late hours (7-6 M-Th and 7-5 F) you’re sure to find a time and location that works for you: North Indy/Carmel, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t let injury or pain ruin your holidays, call or click today and get the best team in Indy behind you!


*Click here for a detailed article about how to help prevent injury while shoveling snow this winter.