Scuba equipment lends itself to create the exact type of stress that puts the lower back at risk. A day of picking up tanks and gear bags places a heavy strain on the connective tissues that hold your vertebrae and discs in place. You may not feel your back hut when you lift, but a strain will still take place.
All dive gear can be properly managed with the right precautions and tools. The following guidelines will reduce the chance that you end your diving early.
Whenever possible, set your gear up on a bench, table or tailgate. The more vertical you keep your back when lifting, the less sheer load you will place on your spine. Even the weight of your own body can cause you injury from hunching over your gear as you set it up. So, set your workspace as high as possible.
If you must lift an object off the ground, arch your lower back to pre-engage the muscles protecting the spine. You should look like you're sticking your butt out. Be certain to tighten the abdominal muscles, which support the spine from the front.
Back injuries are most commonly repetitive stress injuries. Use carts or hand trucks to transport gear to the water. Use gear bags with wheels instead of carrying your gear. If necessary consider making more trips to move your equipment.
If you feel pain when lifting, stop what you're doing and let someone else take over.