Carrying Objects – One Hand or Two?

Infographic – Carrying Objects

Carrying Loads


People often wonder what kind of daily activities could impact them long-term — and the simple answer to that type of questions is: all of them. Here is an example of something to that effect. Carrying objects is an extremely common activity. We pick things up, we put them down. We move them across the room, we put them back. In fact, most people have some type of bag (purse, briefcase) that follows them everywhere they go.

What we don’t consider about carrying these objects is how it may impact our long-term health.

Consider the infographic above — the difference between carrying something in one hand, or carrying equal weights in both hands can be significant. In case one, we see the load demanded at the lower back decrease by 44% when 30kg in one hand is changed into 15kg in each hand. So just by balancing the load between each side you can make a great difference for your back. In case two, if you find 30kg to be an unrealistic weight to consider, we find a similar reduction in demands on the lower back by dividing the weight of 10kg between two hands rather than carrying it all in one. This may be more practical to consider, as it closely relates to garbage bags, yard waste, car tires, purses, backpacks, briefcases, etc.

But perhaps the most interesting case is number three. Pick up an object in one hand and you place a certain demand on your lower back — but pick up an equally weighted object in the other hand, so doubling your total object weight, and you actually DECREASE the compression (or loading) of your lower back. In the infographic I reference 30kg again, but in the study cited this finding is true for both 30kg and 10kg (ie. 10kg in your right hand only, vs 10kg in both right and left hands).

So consider for you carry things in your daily life — is it with one hand or two? If you have had a history of lower back pain, or are interested in preventing future occurrences of lower back pain, perhaps making a conscious effort to distribute your (carrying) loads equally is a small step in the right direction.

Dr. Jim GilliardDr. Jim Gilliard is a chiropractor in Burlington, ON at Endorphins Health and Wellness Centre— located in the Burlington Professional Centre at 3155 Harvester Road, Suite 406. If you have questions, comments, or wish to book an appointment, please feel free to contact him at your convenience.

Phone: (905) 634 – 6000

  1. McGill SM, Marshall L, Andersen J. Low back loads while walking and carrying: comparing the load carried in one hand or in both hands. Ergonomics. 2013;56(2):293–302.

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