How do you “lift with your legs” when you are picking it up with your arms or hands?



I would love to know and have not been able to figure this out when I am trying to lift extremely heavy objects. I always end up hurting my back or shoulders because I don’t know how you force the legs to lift things while you are standing on them in one spot or moving. Are you also supposed to be lifting with your legs while you’re walking the heavy object to its destination?

In: Physics

For me the best way to lift with my legs is to squat to pick it up rather than bend. For carrying it, you engage your core while walking. Then squat to put it down.

Crouching and holding your back straight means that when you stand up, you’re “pushing off” with your legs, and they take most of the force.

Standing and leaning over means that when you stand up, you’re pulling upwards with your back, so it takes most of the force.

Lifting “with your legs” is therefore much less punishing on your back.

It’s kind of like doing squats. Keep your head and shoulders up, squat down and grasp the item with your hands/arms. Maintain this position and straighten your legs, using those muscles to do the lifting.

Keeping your spine straight you squat down, grab and then push your legs to a standing position. Youre not bending at the waist to pick it up- thats what causes the back pain. Hopefully that makes sense

Edit: also, dont lift anything thats too heavy. If its too heavy get somebody to help. No matter your form, if its too heavy for you youre going to hurt yourself

Essentially, the only muscles engaging along your arms should be your hand muscles to actually grip the object.
Otherwise yes, you should be squatting rather than bending your back, and your legs should be the muscles engaging to bring the object off the ground as you come to a standing motion. You can use your arms a little bit if you need to readjust, but they shouldn’t be doing the actual lifting.

The power comes from your legs like a squat.

Your back stays more or less upright the whole time, but you bend your knees, grab the item, then stand back up. Most of the exertion comes from the front of your legs, butt, and hips.

This posture puts your strongest parts to work.

If you do the opposite, you risk injuring your low back because those muscles are smaller and weaker than our thighs and butts. For most people the low back usually only helps you stand upright, it’s never really doing extra work to get strong like the thighs.

If your legs are straight, and you bend over at your waist/hip like you are going to tie your shoe, and then stand up carrying something heavier than a few pounds, all the pressure of the movement comes from around the spine. It’s usually not strong enough to protect itself and throw around heavy stuff so thats a common source of injury.

For example – to pick up a heavy box, instead of bending over 45 degrees(like bowing) and lifting it off the ground to my chest. I crouch down, brace it to my chest how I want to carry it, and basically stand up.

I have a window air conditioner unit, if I try to lift it up just bending over 45 degrees, more often than not I will twinge my back, always gotta crouch, brace, and stand.

Bend your knees not your back.

When lifting something from the floor, squat down, grab it, then stand up while keeping your back straight (tipping your head back helps do this)

Your leg muscles are generally stronger than your back, and better designed for lifting.

If you can’t lift it without hurting your arms, then it’s too heavy for you to lift safely. Get somebody else to help you.

When carrying an object, keep it close to your body, ideally holding it between your shoulders and waist.

If you need images to help you understand, try googling “how to do manual handling properly”

Go to YouTube abd search the phrase, “starting strength squat form”. You will find explanations at length of how and why to lift heavy objects (in this case a barbell weighing up to 1000 lbs in high level competitions) with a particular form for maximum safety and efficiency. They do go into the mechanics if you look hard enough.

Think squats.

You keep your back as upright as possible, and squat in front of the heavy-thing.

You hold it as close to you as possible, keeping your back upright – then straighten your knees to stand up. Keep your abdominal muscles tense (as though to brace for a punch in the stomach), to minimise the chance of bending like a sapling.

There are plenty of [images of this]( on the internet.

Your spine is absolutely *shit* at handling flexural stress. – it’s like a train of bones held together with squishy discs of cartilage. If you bend it over with a big weight at the top, the discs get pinched at the bend and can rupture – or at best, the muscles / ligaments / tendons desperately trying to prevent this can get strained or torn.

What your spine *is* good at handling is compressive strength. You can carry someone on your shoulders just fine, as all the force goes straight down the train. All those squishy discs spread the load equally between them like shock absorbers, and you’re fine. Let your knees and hips handle the strain-at-an-angle, which they’re built to cope with.

When I first started learning squats with a coach, his advice was “think less of it as standing up, and more as pushing your feet through the floor”. Sounds weird typed out but when you’ve got 150kg of weights on you it makes far more sense.

The most eli5 answer i can give is: push > pull movement. Pushing allways requires less effort and substantially easier than pulling