How to Pick Up Kids Without Hurting Your Back


We frequently see both parents and grandparents with low back pain from lifting or carrying children. It’s assumed that because they are smaller than us, we can just scoop them up without another thought.

But the truths is, the day to day caring for children can cause a lot of physical wear and tear including shoulder strain, neck stiffness, tension headaches, knee and hip pain and low back tightness.  The risk of injury is greater if mom or grandma has other issues in her muscles or bones – osteoporosis, scoliosis, old back injuries, arthritis, history of c-section, pelvic pain, or general muscle weakness.

And gentleman – you aren’t excluded from this.  The same goes for dads and granddads. You may even be surprised when an old high school football injury sneaks back up on you as you tote your preschooler across the playground.

So what can we do when that sweet child looks up at us and wants a cuddle?

Here are a few ways to pick up kids AND stay injury free. 

1. Widen Your Stance

Open your legs wide (even wider than your hips) and put one leg more forward than the other.  In this position, you are starting out much stable and strong.

2. Don’t Bend at the Hips

Never bend over straight legs and round your back. Always bend your knees and keep your back straight. Squat down using the power in your leg muscles to pick up the child (or anything off the floor for that matter).

3. Keep Them Close

Don’t stretch your arms out to pick up a baby or young child. Bring them close to your chest before lifting. Don’t overextend or lock your elbow or reach so far you poke your head out.

4. Avoid Twist

The goal is to keep the back straight for stability and injury prevention.  Don’t twist to reach a child or while holding them.

5. Hold Them Centered

Especially when carrying a heavier toddler or preschooler, don’t hold them on one arm or balanced on your hip.  Hold them close to your chest and centered with their legs wrapped around your waist.

6. Stay Strong

An exercise program to build the right kind of strength that will support your back will protect you from injury as well.  It’s important to work on muscles that stabilize the spine, hips, abdominal muscles, and support good posture.

Most importantly  . . . be mindful of the way you lift and carry everything.  It might seem like a pain or inconvenience, but I promise you . . . you will enjoy this season of parenting (or grandparenting) much more if you don’t have back pain.

If you are already suffering from back pain or need more assistance in finding the “right exercises” for you to lift safely, Apply For A No-Cost 20 Minute Physical Therapy “Discovery” Session to see how our specialists can help.  Just click the link below to get started.