As the nature of many materials handling tasks have begun to change from lifting to pushing and pulling, it is important that one understands the biomechanical nature of the risk to which the lumbar spine is exposed. Most previous assessments of push-pull tasks have employed models that may not be sensitive enough to consider the effects of the antagonistic cocontraction occurring during complex pushing and pulling motions in understanding the risk to the spine and the few that have considered the impact of cocontraction only consider spine load at one lumbar level. This study used an electromyography-assisted biomechanical model sensitive to complex motions to assess spine loadings throughout the lumbar spine as 10 males and 10 females pushed and pulled loads at three different handle heights and of three different load magnitudes. Pulling induced greater spine compressive loads than pushing, whereas the reverse was true for shear loads at the different lumbar levels. The results indicate that, under these conditions, anterior-posterior (A/P) shear loads were of sufficient magnitude to be of concern especially at the upper lumbar levels. Pushing and pulling loads equivalent to 20% of body weight appeared to be the limit of acceptable exertions, while pulling at low and medium handle heights (50% and 65% of stature) minimised A/P shear. These findings provide insight to the nature of spine loads and their potential risk to the low back during modern exertions.