Moving soon? If you’re planning a DIY move, be prepared to lift a wide range of moving boxes. While lighter boxes won’t present much of a challenge, heavier (and perhaps, larger) boxes will. If you’re not sure how to lift a box correctly, we strongly advise reading about the proper way to do so before moving. Otherwise, you could end up with an injured back and neck – not to mention a pair of very sore legs. Lifting heavy objects incorrectly almost always leads to muscle strain and back injury. Unfortunately, this could set you up for a lifetime of back problems and muscle aches.

Thankfully, we’ve included all the steps you need to successfully lift boxes when moving to a new home. These steps will teach you the tips and tricks to not injuring yourself when moving heavy boxes. From loading them onto the truck to unloading them into the home, here’s how to lift a box correctly.

Step by step instructions for how to lift a box correctly when moving

  1. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing

    Before getting started, it’s very important that you’re wearing appropriate moving attire. Stick to comfortable clothing and/or athletic wear such as yoga pants and t-shirts. Avoid clothes wear it’s difficult to bend the knees and avoid open-toe shoes as well as shoes that are simply impractical (news flash: moving a pile of boxes in high heels or work shoes isn’t a great idea). Instead, opt for closed-toe sneakers and flats with comfortable socks. Wearing appropriate clothing makes it easier to move boxes (not to mention, furniture and other items) and makes you feel more comfortable throughout the moving process.

  2. Examine and test the weight of the box

    Prior to lifting the box, we recommend testing the box’s weight first. To do so, bend down and pick up part of the box to get a sense of the overall weight. If you aren’t able to lift even part of the box, you will likely need assistance or equipment when moving it. If you think you’re able to handle the weight of the box by yourself, skip down to step four. 

  3. Determine if you need assistance

    After gently lifting part of the box, determine if you need help moving the item. If you can’t lift the box, you will most certainly need at least one other able body to provide assistance. When planning a DIY move, it’s a good idea to have several friends or family members help with the heavy lifting. If you’re unable to find assistance from a friend or family member, we suggest hiring moving day help from HireAHelper, an online marketplace where you can locate and book moving labor professionals. 

  4. Distribute the weight of the objects inside the box evenly

    Before picking up the box, shift the items inside so that all of the weight is distributed evenly. The last thing you want is for half the box to be heavy and the other half to be light. This will only make it impossible to lift (much less carry) through the home. Make sure to place heavier items at the bottom of the box, so that they don’t crush and damage lighter objects.

  5. Remove objects if box is too heavy

    If the box is simply too heavy to carry, and you lack any assistance from friends or professionals, remove the heaviest items from the moving box. These items may need to be carried onto the truck separately from the the rest of your belongings. Do not strain or attempt to lift a box that is more than you can handle. You will only end up injuring yourself and slowing down the move. 

  6. Stand facing the box so that your feet and shoulders line up

    Ready to lift the box? Stand and face the moving box with your feet shoulder-length apart. If your feet are too close together or too far apart, you will only increase the chances of a back injury.

  7. Bend your knees and squat down

    Once you’re in the right position, bend your knees and squat down. Try your best to avoid hunching over. Keeping your back somewhat straight will go a long way in preventing a back injury. Grip the box at the two opposite corners. Make sure you have a firm grip on the box before lifting it up.

  8. Stand up slowly and lift the box with your legs

    Keeping your knees bent and your back straight, carefully and slowly lift the box using the strength of your legs. By lifting with your legs (and not your back), you’ll be much less likely to strain or injure your muscles. As you stand up, bring the moving box towards the center of your chest.

  9. Slowly walk towards the moving truck

    Once you have stood up completely and have a firm grip on the box, begin walking slowly and evenly towards the moving truck. You may need an assistant to open doors and to help you with transporting the box up or down stairs. Whatever you do, don’t twist or jerk the upper part of your body around without moving your entire body. This could cause a back injury or muscle strain.

  10. Bend knees and squat to carefully place moving box down

    Remember: lifting and moving a moving box is all in the legs. So when placing the moving box down on the ground or onto the truck, make sure to first bend your knees. This will support your entire body as you slowly squat down to the ground. Place the box firmly on the ground and release.

Need special equipment to help with the heavy lifting?

Fortunately, you can rent a dolly or hand truck from most truck rental companies. U-Haul will even allow you to rent a dolly or hand truck separate from their moving trucks. You may also be able to rent moving blankets, pads, appliance dollies and other equipment.

Where can I find sturdy moving boxes?

Of course, lifting a moving box is much easier (and safer) when the cardboard box is good quality. To find sturdy boxes from reputable box and packing supply vendors, check’s box center. We’ve partnered, to help you buy the necessary moving boxes and packing supplies at great, discounted prices.

For those on a tight budget and in need of free boxes, check your local libraries, bookstores, schools and recycling drop-off points for gently-used supplies. You may also be able to find free moving boxes through the Freecycle Network, Craigslist,, Facebook Marketplace and U-Haul’s Customer Connect Box Exchange. For more tips on where to find free moving boxes, check our list here.

Prefer to hire professionals to do the heavy lifting?

We don’t blame you. Heavy items (especially large boxes) are often best left to the professionals. Fortunately, we have you covered. To find the right moving company for your next move, check out’s extensive network of reputable and reliable movers – all licensed and insured. For more help planning your upcoming move, try our Move Planner. We provide you with a customizable moving checklist, personal tasks list, email reminders and coupon to help you stay organized throughout a move. Best of luck and happy moving!


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