Using good body mechanics to lift and carry reduces the strain on your heart and your back.

Your everyday activities

Use good position and posture

  • Don't stand when you can sit. If shaving makes you tired, put a mirror on the table. Rest your elbows.
  • Avoid working with your arms above your shoulders for long periods of time.
  • Sit on a high stool to iron or cook.
  • Plan your steps. Keep a basket at the bottom of the stairs for items that must go upstairs. Make one trip instead of four.
  • Use good posture. This reduces stress on your neck, back and shoulder muscles. It also lets you breathe easier.
  • Change your positions. Break up your work with a stretch or a walk.
  • Avoid staying in the same position for a long time. Use a purse with a shoulder strap. If you use the phone for a long time, use a speaker phone or headset.
  • Avoid reaching and bending. Use lazy susans, pull-out shelves and reachers.
  • Avoid lifting. Slide items or use carts.

How to lift

How to lift

  • Stand as close to the object as you can with your feet spread apart.
  • Bend at your knees, keeping your back straight.
  • Grasp the load firmly. Hold the load close to the center of your body and face the direction you want to walk. This will help you avoid twisting and turning.
  • To unload, bend your knees and slide the load into place.

How to carry

  • Carry the object at waist level with your elbows slightly bent.
  • Try not to carry an object on one side of your body.
  • If you have to, set the object down once in a while.
  • Try to use a rolling cart to carry heavy items.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, fifth edition, 1-931876-31-2
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/10/2015