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Safe Lifting Techniques for Parents

Implementing simple safe lifting techniques is a must for long term back health of any parent. Parents are continually faced with the strenuous physical demands of child rearing such as chasing, lifting, feeding, and comforting.

The mechanism leading to back pain is believed to be associated with the repetitive lifting of children. Consider the fact that parents are lifting a 7-10 pound baby 50 times per day. By the age of 12 months the child may weigh approximately 17 pounds, and at 2 years the child becomes a very active 25 to 30 pound toddler. Add a brother or sister into the mix and you really compound the issue.

Work and chores around the house aside, studies show that parenthood is a proven risk factor for back problems in both men and women.

What follows are some simple tips that can help parents avoid the aches, sprains, and strains associated with the challenges of family life.

Safe Lifting: The Basics

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart which gives you a stable base of support.
  • Keep your back as straight as possible and bend at your knees to reach your child.
  • Lift using both arms while keeping your back straight and pushing up with your thigh muscles, which are amongst the largest and strongest muscles in the body.
  • When carrying and moving a child, pivot with your feet until you are facing your destination, then lower the child into the crib or onto the floor by bending at the knees and keeping your back straight. Bending and twisting puts the most load on the lower back structures, namely the disc.
  • When lowering a child into the crib by bending at the knees, try keeping a straight back to minimize rounding of the lower back as much as possible.

Most often it is innocent movements that flare up lower back pain. Movements like bending quickly to pick up a toy, shifting children around on a couch or floor while bending at the back, and difficulties with getting a child in and out of a crib. Even though the loads are relatively light, it is the unknowingly compromised position that you put your back in and the repetition of movement that gets the better of you. It is hard to actively think about lifting and posture all of the time; however, the more you do it, the easier it will get.

If you can think about good posture and proper lifting technique at least 50 percent more of the time, you will be much better off in the short term while training yourself for good posture and lifting ability, all the time, in the long term.


Hold your child in an upright position, directly against your chest in the center. Carrying a child on one hip creates postural imbalances that can lead to low back pain over time.


Always sit in a chair with sufficient back support and refrain from leaning forward to reach the child's mouth, which can strain your upper and lower back. Alternatively, use pillows or blankets to support and position the child. Allowing your pelvis to rotate backgrounds (slouching) puts great strain on the lower back as you hang off the supportive structures like ligaments, tendon, and muscle. If the lower back is supported and not allowed to rock backwards, you take the strain off and avoid the aches.

There is no room for back pain in parenthood.

With all the responsibilities of parenthood, it is difficult to find the time to relax an stay in shape. Many new parents find that simply stretching for 10 minutes while children nap enhances their energy levels, while allowing them to stay flexible and avoid those familiar aches and pains.

Dr. Ormond's 10 General Tips for a Healthy Back

  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Follow a healthy diet.
  3. Maintain good posture as much as possible.
  4. Do an active warm up before activity and stretch after.
  5. Don't overload your backpack or shoulder bag.
  6. Stretch your legs and back after each hour of sitting.
  7. Never cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder.
  8. Sleep on your back or side, not on your stomach.
  9. Invest in a good chair, pillow and mattress. It's worth it!
  10. Have regular spinal check-ups.

Back Problem Warning Signs

  • Leg pain with numbness, tingling, and/or weakness.
  • Back or leg pain with coughing or sneezing.
  • Difficulty standing up after sitting for any period of time.
  • Stiffness in the morning that decreases when you move around.
  • Pain in your hip, buttock, thigh, knee, or foot.
  • Inability to turn or bend to each side equally.
  • Unbalanced posture, when your head, neck, or shoulder may be higher on one side than the other.
  • Pain which prevents you from sleeping well.
  • Pain that persists or worsens after 48 hours.

Dr. Ormond is a chiropractor dedicated to providing clients with natural, gentle, evidence based health care in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Services include: chiropractic treatment; soft tissue therapy; medical acupuncture; custom orthotic inserts and shoes; and rehabilitation. Posture advice to support the spine and relieve stress is a key element in patient care success.

Pointing clients in the right direction towards a healthy, pain free, and productive lifestyle is important to Dr. Mitch Ormond. Treating most conditions is the easy part, its following through with the decision to get a problem taken care of that is the hard part.

Call 416.598.4999, email Dr. Mitch Ormond , or drop by the clinic for more information. You can get specific directions to the clinic by filling out our Mapquest® form.

Find out more about how we can help with your individual health care needs. Appointments recommended.

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