This paper presents the findings of a study conducted to determine peak forces generated in the human spine while the individual is engaged in lifting maximum acceptable weight. Calculations of forces and moments, acting on each body segment, were based on film data collected on four individuals for twelve variations of the manual lifting task. The variations were defined by: (i) box-size (three different boxes were used), (ii) presence or absence of handles, and (iii) symmetry and asymmetry of the lifting task (sagittal and nonsagittal lifting). In general, lower loads were accepted for lift when lifting asymmetrically or when lifting boxes without handles or when lifting bigger boxes. However, peak forces (compressive and shear forces in the spine and ground reaction forces) for these situations were not always lower than those generated when handling either compact boxes or boxes with handles or when lifting boxes symmetrically in the sagittal plane. On the basis of these results, it was concluded that lifting loads asymmetrically or in boxes without handles or in bulky boxes is relatively much more stressful than lifting the same load symmetrically or in boxes with handles or in compact boxes.

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