Who ever thinks about correct lifting when they stoop to pick up their child? I venture to suggest that no one does. The average person when lifting a child, bends from the waist, reaches out — usually to the side — grips, and lifts at arms length.

This not only puts strain on your low back, but also puts shearing forces on the spine as you twist. Generally, it is the dominant side of your body that is stressed. Sadly, at some point in time, your other side will start to complain as its muscles are lengthened out of alignment.

Ideally, to protect yourself, try to pick up your child from a position directly in front of your body. Keep your back straight while bending at the hip and flexing the knees. Bringing the child close to the body before lifting avoids low back strain caused by over-reaching with the arms and reduces by several pounds, unnecessary pressure on your low back.

— Karen Elysbeth Walsh is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in ergonomics and pain management, www.ergonomictherapist.com.