Lifting is a major risk factor for low back pain.

Should you lift with a straight, or round back?

"Workplace health and safety representatives, healthcare practitioners, as well as gym instructors, advise that lifting with a rounded back should be avoided and instead insist that the safest way to lift is with a straight back," Professor Peter O'Sullivan (Curtain University) said.

"We reviewed previous studies of participants who had lifted objects, ranging from a pen up to 12 kg in weight. We found no evidence to suggest that people who lift with a rounded back were at an increased risk of low back pain.

"Gradually building tolerance to lifting and being fit for lifting might be important in reducing the risk of lifting-related low back pain. Other factors such as repetitive lifting when fatigued or tired, having poorer mental and physical health, and being overweight might also be more important than the way you lift."

"Modifications made to workplace environments such as removing lifts from the ground and lifting technique suggestions, such as keeping the load close when lifting and reducing lifts in awkward postures, is sensible advice and may reduce load on the back."

"Further research is needed to see how people who have worked in a lifting job for many years without low back pain position their back when they lift. These people may hold the clues to better understanding the risk factors for low back pain in lifting occupations."