Moving Tips: Lifting and Carrying techniques

One of the most common problems when moving is lifting things. This is also commonly the highest cause of injuries when moving. It is very important to take proper precautions when moving, to make sure there are enough persons to lift heavy objects, and that lifting is done properly so as to mitigate as best as possible the potential for injury. At the same time there are a number of very easy ways to accomplish this, and while moving things isn’t exactly fun, it is a lot less fun if some one is injured, or something gets broken. The following will help ensure that moving is done as safely, and practically as possible.

Ways to Prepare

There are a number of ways to prepare for lifting and carrying. First, and foremost, there should be an adequate number of individuals available to help lift items, especially heavy ones. Many have had the experience of asking friends to help move, only to see very few show up Saturday morning when the truck comes. It’s very easy to assume, well we’ll just work with who came. This is a really short-sited idea. Someone could get hurt, which in addition to unpleasantness could cause liability issues, and legal ramifications. Secondly this is not safe for one’s belongings. Even if one has an apathetic attitude toward most of their belongings it’s just a bad idea to proceed with too few people.

For smaller items packing them properly, so that weight is evenly distributed in boxes, and also loading properly to assure that heavy items are not crushing small or fragile ones, will help lifting and carrying go smoothly. For large items, even with the requisite number of persons on hand to help lift, it’s important to consider health as well. It may seem socially awkward but lifting is an exercise and a little stretching, some calisthenics, and proper rest are a really smart way to prepare for a day of moving. Hydration is important to; moving day is a great day for bottled water, and not a great day for a couple of beers. Just as important is rest, waiting till the last minute to pack, and thus getting little sleep, is a recipe for disaster on moving day. Once you have enough people, are properly packed, have warmed up a little, and taken into account that the day is in many ways a day full of medium to heavy exercise you’re ready to get started.

Lifting Techniques

Lifting, and loading objects may not be a renowned art form but there are a few different ways to make it easier for everyone, and reduce the chance of safety issues. For any carrying techniques an important factor is to always lift with ones legs, never with one’s back or lower spine. In general if possible it is best to keep objects below waist level even if they are relatively light. Repeatedly carrying light items can, over the course o a day, cause just as many risks as lifting a heavy item improperly for a few minutes or seconds. 

Carrying things over one shoulder, as long as weight is properly distributed, can be useful also as when one stands upright with normal posture it is one of the most optimal ways for the body to support weight. One should take care in general to pace themselves, and not try to show off or hurry. As much as how one lifts important when one is not lifting; taking a break might bring a few moans, but it’s smart and usually moving gets done faster when everyone is at their best rather than exhausted from trying to rush.

When lifting heavy items with another person, or several people, always try to position yourself as close to the object as possible rather than putting a lot of strain on arms or hands. Always bend at the knees if possible, even if just picking up something from the floor; bending at the waist puts strain on the lower back, which is already taking a lot of strait while carrying heavy objects. Also make sure to keep feet should length apart, this helps distribute weight of heavy objects over the body better than keeping legs too close together.

What Can Go Wrong

There are numerous injuries one can sustain from improper moving. Lifting several small packages over the course of day is almost a small repetitive stress injury, and could lead to a week of sore places. Attempting to lift an object improperly, by not keeping it close, can result in twisting or pulling muscles or tendons. The most common lifting injuries however are to the spine, back, and neck. These are the most preventable by using the above tips, and a worthwhile investment. It cannot be understated that a back or neck injury due to improperly lifting something heavy can result in serious pain, a trip to the hospital, or life long spine or neck issues requiring long term or permanent medical treatment. It is simply not worth it to risk any of these when it is so easy to prevent them.

Using the Right Tools for the Job

While a forklift and adequate space to use one would probably solve a lot of moving hassle, there are actually a lot of other tools available to help reduce the amount of lifting needed, or make lifting safer and easier. There are a number of braces, and back straps available, either for purchase or often for rent, that help better distribute weight when lifting heavy objects. Another smart idea is to use a moving van with a lift on the back. Often moving vans have a floor that is well above chest level, and thus hard to, and unwise to lift to. Using a ramp can make this height easier to reach, but a powered lift can make it much easier, and quicker. Similarly in many cases using a pulley to lower, or raise a heavy object is a way to reduce the amount of lifting which needs to be done. A winch or come-a-long can help to tow items which can be rolled up or down ramps safely.