I often hear when I am working with clients on optimal body mechanics for bending and lifting that they were told to "lift with your legs and not your back." In part this is true. However, when I then ask them to demonstrate the technique, all too often I observe them curving at the spine or slouching to reach the object on the floor. Most back injuries are a result of improper lifting techniques. Performing this poor technique over time places your spine in a vulnerable position and adding load oftentimes leads to a back injury or pain. These types of injuries are almost always avoidable.
It is important to remember that you are not only using your legs to lift but core stability is also important. Keeping your spine in a straight and neutral position while you bend, will help protect your from injury. You can practice this movement by placing a dowel rod, straight cane or broom handle along your spine, while bending at the waist AND the knees, lift with your legs while engaging your core muscles (draw your belly button towards your spine.) This movement is called a "hip hinge." More tips to help protect you from injury are:
Keeping a regular exercise routine that includes core, glute and hip strengthening will help keep your back from "over-working" when you lift, and hopefully keep you from having an unfortunate injury. Physical therapy can help strengthen those areas, address soft tissue injuries and get you back on track doing the things you not only have to do but the things you love to do.