Back-Friendly Moving Tips

June 19, 2018 | Chiropractic, Lifestyle, Stress, Wellness

Tips for a move that’s easier on the back


Moving to a new home can be exciting but stressful. An achy back can’t stop you from getting the job done.  Here are tips that can help keep your back in tip-top shape through all phases of your move.


The Planning Phase

A move cannot be rushed. Rushing and stressing increase your risk of injury. You should start planning your move and packing several weeks before your moving date. Create a countdown to-do list like this one.


Pack an overnight travel bag with essentials so that you don’t have to look for your toothbrush or your contact solution on your first night in your new home. Don’t forget to set aside household essentials like bedding for a restful sleep after what could be a stressful day.


Pack cleaning essentials separately and move them to your new home first. If you have the luxury of getting the keys to your new place ahead of your move day, plan for a cleaning day before you move your belongings.


To save your back, your friends’ backs, or your movers’ backs, you can find out ahead of time if your new couch won’t fit through the staircase, no matter how much “pivoting” you do (think Friends’ famous moving episode). Measure the door frames, staircases, elevators, and narrow hallways so that you don’t have any bad surprises on moving day. This video gives you handy tips on what to measure to plan for a move.


Try and get a floorplan of your new place. There are many online tools that can help you figure out if your new or old furniture will fit in your new home. If there are specific spots you would like your furniture to be placed, you can mark the floor with masking tape to help your movers. This will prevent you from moving a heavy piece of furniture multiple times.


Purge before you pack. Separate your goods: what can’t be sold should be donated, what can’t be donated should be thrown out. If you haven’t unpacked a box from your last move, you probably don’t need to move it again. Take an inventory of its content and dispose of what you don’t need.

Packing and Moving

When packing boxes avoid being overzealous. Keep the loads to a minimum in each box, using smaller boxes for heavier items such as books.  Try and distribute the contents evenly and securely to avoid movement within the boxes as they are carried. Use larger boxes such as reusable Rubbermaid totes for lighter items such as pillows, bedding, clothes, etc.


Label your boxes on all sides indicating which room they belong in. It may also be helpful to label your rooms. If you are moving to a place with multiple bedrooms, give each room a number and clearly identify each room with a number on the door. This will keep you from moving boxes from room to room once the movers have left.


Colour coding can be used for many things when moving. To make things easier, duct tape can be purchased in a variety of colours. An easy code to use is green tape for light boxes, yellow tape for medium weight boxes, and red tape for the heavier boxes.


A move is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t overexert yourself but trying to move something that is beyond your lifting capacity. Heavy, awkwardly shaped, and oversized objects sometimes need more than one pair of hands to be moved. Avoid an injury and ask for a helping hand before attempting to move anything you are unsure of.

Use Proper Lifting Techniques

Bend at the knees and use your legs rather than stressing your back when lifting. Avoid twisting at the waist. Instead, pivot with your feet and turn your whole body.  Carry heavy items as close to your body as possible. Distribute weight evenly on each side of the body.

Equip yourself with the right moving tools such as a dolly or straps to make moving easier on your back.

If you hurt yourself during a move, stop what you are doing and address the issue immediately. If pain persists beyond 24 hours, consult a chiropractor and get it assessed.

Your field of vision is reduced when you’re carrying a box and you are more vulnerable to tripping hazards. Spaces should be free of clutter to ease your moving day. Keep the path from the old house to the truck, and from the truck to the new house clutter free.

Keep spaces well lit, roll up the rugs, and move boxes out of hallways. Instruct your moving crew to deposit things along back walls when dropping things into rooms.

Warm up, cool down, stretch, and take breaks

Moving is physically demanding and should be treated as such. Treat your move day like a sporting event.  

  • Make sure you’re in tip-top shape for the day of the move. That may mean visiting your chiropractor or massage therapist for a preventative visit.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Warm up before starting.
  • Start slowly with smaller boxes and build up to the larger pieces of furniture.
  • Take breaks to stretch, eat, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Recognize your own limits.
  • Take appropriate action if you get hurt in the process.


The Unpacking Phase

Ideally, items should be moved once from point A to point B. For rooms such as the kitchen and the bathroom, come up with a working plan before you unpack. Start by unpacking essentials, room by room, and finish with whatever you packed first.


When packing and unpacking, put the box on a surface such as a table or a bed so that you avoid bending or reaching repeatedly while working.


Hiring professionals

Finally, consider hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting and help you plan your move. Moving is their business and they will likely give you tips and tricks you haven’t thought of that will ease your mind and your spine. They can help you estimate how many boxes you’ll need, what size truck you’ll require and make your moving day generally a lot less stressful. When choosing a moving company, get a recommendation from a friend, family or from your realtor as online reviews aren’t always credible.


Have you recently moved to Ottawa and you’re looking for a new chiropractor? Give us a call and our team will make this move an easy one.

To book an appointment, call 613.860.8600 for our Byward location, and 613.237.9000 for our Glebe location.