The Bottom Line: Lifting Height & Low Back Pain: What’s the Effect?
Posted on July 12, 2022 | in Ergonomics
VelocityEHS ergonomist Blake McGowan summarizes the findings of a recent study that measured the effects of lifting items from various heights on low back loading and the risk of developing low back pain.
Hi, my name is Blake McGowan, and I’m a certified professional ergonomist with Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). Manual material handling, as well as managing the risk of low back pain, is a primary concern for many safety professionals. Well, in 2017, my colleague and fellow Humantech consultant, Ben Know, conducted a systematic review of the literature to better understand the effects of lifting height on spinal loading and the risk of low back pain. They summarized the results of 35 high-quality studies. So, what did Ben and his colleagues from the University of Waterloo find?
Well, first, they figured out that lifting from the ground causes twice as much spinal loading compared to lifting from elbow height. And remember, spinal loading is a primary risk factor for low back pain. Second, the effect of lifting from the ground is magnified for those people who are older, obese, who have previous low back pain, or have knee pain.
So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that lifting from the ground is twice as risky compared to lifting from elbow height. The recommendation is to store it off the floor and closer to elbow height.