Body mechanics is a term used to describe the way we move our body while we perform our activities of daily living in a way that limits the risk of stress or injury. It includes how we hold our bodies when we lift, carry, stand, sit, bend over, and sleep. Poor body mechanics are often a contributing factor to back pain. When we do not move in a safe manner, our spines can be subjected to increased stress that can lead to pain and problems, now and in the future.
That is why it is important to learn the body mechanics basics. We can teach you how to move your body so that you can do everything you need to do but in a safe manner that can prevent back pain and injury.
Analyze the situation.
- Plan your activity. Assess what you will be lifting and how you will lift it. Check the route to be traveled, clearing the pathway, opening the doors, etc. to reduce the risk of tripping or slipping. If you are lifting with the help of another person, explain what you plan to do and where you are going.
- If the load to be lifted is too heavy, get help (regardless of the weight or need to wait). If you need to, break down the load and make two or more trips. Use good judgement.
Check your footing.
- Your feet should be apart to give you a wider base of support for better balance and stability. Be sure to wear shoes that are non-skid and safe. Avoid loose fitting, high heeled shoes, or going barefoot.
Move in close.
- Instead of reaching for items from a distance, move in close and hold the object close to the center of your gravity with your arms bent. Avoid reaching too far or too low. Never catch a falling object!
Squat and bend at your hips and knees.
- Use your power lifting leg muscles for lifting (regardless of object size), never lifting with your back. Keep your center of gravity low and use a wide base of support.
- Lift the load slowly using your leg muscles, avoiding quick jerky movements. Do not use weaker arm muscles before your legs and trunk. Always tighten your abdominal muscles when lifting. Test the object first to make sure you will be able to lift it safely.
Be smooth and synchronized.
- Avoid strain produced by jerky and unplanned movements. Always lift together by making sure others are ready and counting one, two, three, lift. Avoid holding your breath when lifting.
Turn slowly and do not twist.
- Move with your feet. Do not plant your feet and twist your trunk with any size load.
Transport on wheels.
- When possible, do not carry an object that can be transported on wheels. Always push rather than pull an object.
Proper body mechanics are key for keeping your spine and body healthy and functioning the way it should. It is easy to incorporate these principles into your daily life and practice with all types of activity. With practice, it will become routine and your body and back will be forever grateful!
If you are experiencing difficulty with your back or have any questions about body mechanics, please contact us at Timberlane PT. We will be happy to show you ways to help reduce and prevent pain!