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Lifting technique & pain

Lifting technique & pain

Should we keep a straight back when lifting something off the ground? Will lifting with a flexed back increase my chance of developing lower back pain? Will it make my existing back pain worse?

If you have asked yourselves any of these questions… you are not alone. It is common to hear the advice that lifting with a straight back will prevent you from getting lower back pain. Let’s look at current research to see if this is true.

2020 systematic review reviewed papers that investigated whether lower back flexion during lifting is a risk factor for lower back pain. Results found there is no evidence which suggests lifting with more lower back flexion is not a risk factor for lower back pain.

Furthermore, a 2021 research paper found manual workers without lower back pain were more likely to lift with a more stooped, round-back posture. While manual workers with lower back pain lifted with a straight back. This directly challenges the belief that lifting with a flexed back leads to back pain.


Saraceni, N., Kent, P., Ng, L., Campbell, A., Straker, L., & O'Sullivan, P. (2020). To Flex or Not to Flex? Is There a Relationship Between Lumbar Spine Flexion During Lifting and Low Back Pain? A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 50(3), 121–130.https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2020.9218

Saraceni, N., Campbell, A., Kent, P., Ng, L., Straker, L., & O'Sullivan, P. (2021). Exploring lumbar and lower limb kinematics and kinetics for evidence that lifting technique is associated with LBP. PloS one, 16(7), e0254241. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254241

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