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Safety Tips for Moving College Students into a Dorm

College students moving in to the university campus

With the school year kicking off, many young people are starting their first year of college. They’ve bought all kinds of supplies for school and are figuring out how to fit it all in the car. What they, and their parents, are not thinking about are safe body mechanics while moving all their possessions into the dorm. Here are some tips to help protect your body as you lift so you can start out the school year on the right foot. These tips also apply to packing the car/truck as well as unloading it.

When lifting:

  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart for balance & stability. Stagger your stance.
  • Bend from your knees and hips, not your back.
  • Hold the object close to you, around the area of your navel.
  • Minimize any reaching overhead, as this will put undue stress on your neck and shoulders. Use a stepstool.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles when you lift-this puts your stomach muscles in place to help lift, and prevents extra strain on your back.
  • Remember to breathe when you lift something. This may sound simple but you’d be surprised at how often people hold their breath when they’re doing something physically strenuous. Holding your breath increases your blood pressure, so make a point of breathing out as you lift an item up and breathing in as you set it down, and breathing normally as you carry it.
  • Keep your back in a neutral position.
  • Move your feet when turning. Avoid twisting motions while lifting, especially heavy objects.
  • Step toward what you are lifting or lowering instead of extending your arms outward – this puts undue stress on your lower back.
  • If it looks heavy, it probably IS heavy. Ask for help: this is a good way to get to know your new roommate!
  • If possible, use a dolly or hand-truck. And definitely use an elevator if available.

Gentle stretching beforehand can help to loosen up your muscles before you exert yourself, especially if the trip is a long one. Stay hydrated, take breaks, and watch your back! It’s not worth it to push through and get everything done if it means starting the school year with an injury.

Updated on August 22, 2019

Jon Cinkay, physical therapist

Jon Cinkay is a physical therapist and exercise physiologist at HSS Rehabilitation. He is the Body Mechanics Coordinator at HSS, promoting safe body mechanics.


The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.