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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Moving? Lift Like the Pros to Reduce Injury Risk

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011
Research shows devices, altered carrying techniques ease tension on back and arms

SEATTLE – Carrying loads on your back rather than against the abdomen when moving may reduce effort and lessen chance for injury, according to a study presented today at the 56th American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in Seattle. Using special devices can also be an effective ergonomic strategy in improving grip and lessening the impact on the back and forearms.

The study was designed to determine the biomechanical differences between carrying objects on the front and back of the body, and to determine if an assistive load carriage device would reduce muscle effort when carrying loads against the back or abdomen. A total of twenty male study participants were asked to carry a load on a treadmill so that researchers could study the effects on the shoulder, neck, back, abdominals and forearms.

“We found that professional movers often carry loads against their backs, mainly because they found it to be more practical and less painful,” said Joan M. Stevenson, Ph.D., a co-author of the study. “However, more research is needed with professional movers or warehouse workers to see if the back carry technique reduces the risks of back injury without increasing the risks of other injuries.”

Researchers found that when participants carried loads on their backs, they reduced erector spinae muscle activity by more than 50 percent, explaining why professional movers found this method less stressful. When an on-body, assistive lifting device was used, shoulder and forearm muscles benefitted with a more than 40 percent reduction in muscle activity.

Injuries from moving heavy objects can often lead to shoulder and back pain. According to the study’s authors, some movers do not have the shoulder flexibility or grip strength for back carrying, and many moving companies avoid this method in fear of damaging customers’ goods. However, those movers who use the back carry technique feel they lift more safely, have fewer tripping hazards and are reducing risks of back pain.

“This technique may be very important when it comes to injury prevention, whether it is on a professional movers or just a college student moving to an apartment,” said Stevenson. “We know that some people do not have the shoulder flexibility or grip strength to perform this technique, so an assistive lifting device can be valuable.”

To avoid injuries while moving, it is helpful to gently warm up the body with low-intensity muscle stretching for approximately 10–15 minutes. ACSM recommends stretching two to three times a week. Regular stretching can improve other aspects of health, including flexibility.


The  American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the  American College of Sports Medicine.

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