Approximately 3.7 million Australians have back issues, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014-15 National Health Survey. Furthermore, it is estimated that between 70% and 90% of the population will have lower back pain at some point during their lifetime.

One of the ways to protect your back and prevent injury is to use a proper lifting technique when lifting heavy objects. The Mayo Clinic and Better Health break down the steps for lifting properly to avoid injury.

The first step is to thoroughly plan out your lift and ensure that the area is free of obstacles. Begin in a safe position with your feet shoulder width apart and positioned as close as possible to the object you are going to lift. Bend at the knees while maintaining the natural curve in your lower back, and tighten your core muscles while you reach for the object.

Once you have a secure grip on the object, use your leg muscles (not your back) to push yourself back up into a standing position, while keeping the object as close to your body as possible. Ensure that you don’t twist your back when you’re carrying the object – if you need to place it to the side, take a step and pivot with your feet.

If you need to position the object back on the ground, bend at the knees again into a squatting position, while still maintaining the natural curve in your lower back, and place the object on the floor slowly before returning to the standing position.

Remember to never try to lift an object that you think is too heavy, and ask a friend for help instead of attempting a potentially hazardous lift.

Unsafe lifting techniques put your back at risk of injury, which can lead to pain and disability. By being conscientious of your lifting technique, you can help to protect your back and decrease your risk of suffering a debilitating injury.