(HealthDay News) -- Back injuries often are caused by lifting or moving heavy objects. Muscle strain or sprain can occur by lifting an object that's too heavy, or by lifting improperly. Here are a few tips on how to safely lift heavy objects, courtesy of the American Academy of Family Physicians:
- Test out the item before you try to lift it by seeing how easily it moves, and how much force it takes to move it. This will give you an idea of how heavy it is, and if you'll need help lifting it.
- If you're lifting a box, be sure that the weight inside is properly distributed and packed. If the weight shifts while you're carrying it, it could cause an accident or injury.
- Use handles if they are available.
- If you're lifting an item from above your head, use a ladder to reach it. You can cause serious injury by reaching over your head for a very heavy object.
- Lift with your legs, not with your back, and carry the item between your shoulders and abdomen.
- Lift items slowly, and don't try to lift something that's too heavy for you. Take several breaks if you're lifting and moving many items.
- Be sure you have a clear path to walk, and make sure ground surfaces are even, solid, and not slippery.