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How to Safely Lift Moving Boxes and Furniture During Your Move

Keep your stuff and your body safe by lifting your furniture and moving boxes the right way.

Nina Raemont Writer
A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Nina started at CNET writing breaking news stories before shifting to covering Security Security and other government benefit programs. In her spare time, she's in her kitchen, trying a new baking recipe.
Nina Raemont
4 min read
two people carry a heavy piece of furniture down a narrow stairwell

Pivot! For large furniture pieces, plan ahead to navigate through tight spaces.

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Moving comes with countless stressors. The act of packing and organizing your stuff into boxes is both daunting and tedious, but then you have to unpack it all to boot. That's technically the "easy" part, though. You need to lift and move your heavy items like your mattress and densely packed boxes, adding in physical stress. 

Moving all of your heavy items is not only physically taxing but can lead to injury if not done properly. When moving, most people want to get it done with as soon as possible, but if there's anything worth taking extra time and care with, it's moving the heavy stuff. 

You don't need to be able to bench press your own body weight to lift your furniture and other heavy items during your move. Tricks like knowing the proper stance to lift your stuff combined with knowing when you should rely on equipment to perform the task can make your move less stressful and less potentially injurious. 

For more moving tips, learn how to deep clean your new place and ways to make your new house feel more like a home.

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Dress appropriately for moving large items

Before you start the literal heavy lifting, make sure you are wearing clothing that supports moving big boxes and pieces of furniture. Wear comfortable clothing, but make sure it's not too loose that it might snag on something when you're moving items. 

It might seem obvious, but be sure you're wearing close-toed, supportive shoes -- wearing your pool slides is not advised for this. If you have long hair, do yourself a favor and tie it back. 

Gather tools that can help

A few pieces of moving equipment can make it easier to transport heavy items. They include sliders to put under furniture for easy gliding, ramps for managing stairs and hand trucks with wheels for carrying larger objects.

You can also use shoulder dollies that you strap around yourself and your moving buddy's body to utilize upper body strength while moving larger objects, as well as moving blankets and furniture wrap for protecting the structural integrity of your furniture as it gets transported.

Find helpers who are willing to lift heavy items

Sure, you could probably move all your furniture and boxes on your own with some handy tools, but a friend or a family member who is willing to help will make all the difference. Ask friends for help or hire a moving company for your heftiest belongings. 

There's no harm in asking your friends for help, and if they're all "busy," consider hiring a moving company, even for just the heavy items, which could cut costs. 

Plan your route for large furniture

Before you pick up your furniture and move it around without any forethought, you should have a plan and map how you will maneuver it out of your space. First, grab a measuring tape and get the dimensions of your furniture and the doorways of your route to make sure that everything will fit through. Similarly, make an explicit plan for moving your large furniture into your new space.

Stretch out to stay loose and healthy when moving

The last thing you are trying to do is pull a muscle or throw your back out. To prevent overexertion, stretch your body out ahead of moving.

To make sure you're ready to get your lift on, try out these stretches: 

  • Lower back: cat-cow stretch, child's pose, knee-to-chest stretch
  • Back and hips: Spinal twist
  • Arms: Cross-body shoulder stretch, overhead triceps and shoulder stretch
  • Legs: Standing quad stretch
  • Calves: Floor and wall stretches

Lastly, don't forget about taking breaks throughout the day for stretching and drinking water -- a dehydrated body has a higher risk of injuries and muscle strains. 

Disassemble large, clunky items 

Moving is hard, so try to make it easy on yourself. Take the drawers out of your dresser, unscrew legs on chairs and couches, and break down any large furniture items into as many smaller, lighter pieces as possible. If small enough and possible to do so, place the smaller, broken down pieces into a plastic bag, and tape it to the larger piece of the item so you won't have to go searching for it later. Yes, you may have to move more items by doing this, but it'll be less stressful on your body.

Lift with your knees and hips and avoid lifting with your back 

You've probably heard this before, but it's something that needs to be said when it comes to lifting any heavy item. Avoid lifting with your waist and back muscles, which can result in overexertion and back and muscle strain. Before lifting, position your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot an inch or two ahead of the other. 

As you lift, begin in a squat position and slowly rise upward through your knees and hips -- not your back or your waist. Keep the object you are lifting close to you, maintain proper posture and keep your back straight, making sure not to slump or shrug your shoulders as you lift. 

When in doubt, hire movers

Sometimes, whether you can do something isn't as important as whether you can do something comfortably. Some tasks are too difficult and heavy for our weak little limbs, and that's OK. If you aren't up to the job of moving heavy furniture on your own, you could risk damaging your pieces or hurting yourself. Know your limits and how much is too much to carry.

If you don't have anyone to help you move your belongings and you have some extra cash for movers, use it. Even if paying a mover may seem annoying, preventing serious injuries is invaluable.

Need some more tips for your move? Check out these seven must-have moving apps and how to change your address on your phone after you move.