What are body mechanics and their importance?
Body mechanics is the term used to describe the way our body moves and functions during daily activities, including posture, alignment, and balance.Practicing proper body mechanics can help improve posture, prevent injuries, strains on muscles and joints. Poor body mechanics can cause back pain, muscle fatigue, joint stiffness, unnecessary wear and tear and other health issues.
Some examples of poor body mechanics include:
- Lifting heavy objects incorrectly
- Twisting your body abruptly or awkwardly
- Leaning forward with the neck while on the computer or phone
- Bending the wrist while typing
Principles of body mechanic
The four main principles of body mechanics are maintaining:
- A stable center of gravity
- A wide base of support
- The line of gravity
- Proper body alignment
Body Mechanics in the Workplace
It is most important to know what body mechanics are since a lot of us work from home or in a place that requires us to sit, stand, and lift for a long time. Working in the same position for hours is not good for your back, neck, or wrist; take breaks now and then to avoid strain.
During these breaks, remember to stretch or go fora walk to relieve muscle fatigue. It is also good to give your eyes a break as well after looking at a computer screen for long periods to relax the muscles inside the eyes. Using ergonomic equipment can greatly help prevent injuries to support the positioning of the body, such as a sit-to-stand desk or ergonomic-friendly chairs, and accessories. If you think your back problem is coming from working, you can talk to your employer about it and have the workspace evaluated.
Proper body mechanics
Having good body mechanics is the key to maintaining a good body posture. This involves training our body to stand, walk, lift, sit and sleep in positions where we apply less stress to our spine(as we have all been told since our childhood, to stand up straight and don’t slouch). Our body always, if not most of the time, should be in a neutral position – not too rounded forwards or arched too far back – as this puts less pressure on our spine. Always remember to stand with our feet apart and one foot ahead to have balance and less chance of falling. To reset the jaw, lift the chin to level it and relax; this will also prevent headaches.
Many of us sit for a long time as a daily routine, such as watching TV or sitting at a desk working. During these situations, it is important to practice good body mechanics; having a good posture when sitting will protect the spine from stress and fatigue.
- Sit with your back straight, and shoulders relaxed; avoid a rounded back.
- Place your feet flat on the floor to distribute the weight evenly.
- Avoid sitting in the same position for a long time. Get up and move around or stretch.
- Avoid slouching or leaning to one side.
- If you are using a computer, make sure the monitor is at the same level as your eyes.
- Lift your chin until it is level and relax your jaw and mouth.
- Find a chair that supports your lower back.
Many people spend a lot of time standing every day, whether it’s at work or home. Standing for a long time with a mix of lifting, sitting, and bending can be tough on the body, especially the back, if good body mechanics aren’t being used. The tips will help minimize the risk of strain or injury to your back:
- Stand with your feet apart, with one foot ahead of the other. Make sure both feet are firmly on the ground.
- Do not lock your knees while standing.
- Avoid standing in one position for a long time; change positions from time to time to help relieve stress on your spine and to help your blood circulation.
- Keep your back straight and shoulders down and relaxed.
- Lift your chin until it is level and relax your jaw.
One of the most common causes of back injury comes from lifting heavy objects in a bad form. This happens when one is not positioned right and put most of the weight on the back instead of the legs and arms. The result of lifting incorrectly is a higher risk of injury; having proper lifting techniques will reduce the risk of back injuries.
- Plan ahead: Know where you are going and make sure the path you are taking the load to is clear of any obstacles or hazards.
- Bend your knees and use your leg muscles in a squat or lunge position when lifting and setting the load down.
- Position your body by standing close to the object with your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead.
- Look straight ahead and keep your back straight.
- Pivot with your feet.
- Lift and keep the load as close to your body as possible. Do not lift from a far distance.
- Don’t lift more than you can handle!
Many people spend one-third of their time in bed, including sleeping, playing on the phone, watching TV, or reading. The result of sleeping or lying in bed in a bad position could cause a stiff neck or backaches. The position someone sleeps in also plays a crucial role in how they feel the next morning. Here is how to maintain body mechanics during sleep:
- Sleep on a firm mattress.
- Sleep on your back or side and avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Keep your head elevated at a comfortable height by using a pillow that helps align your head with the rest of your body. Avoid using pillows that are too firm or hard as they will strain the spine.
- Place a pillow between your knees, when sleeping on the side, or behind your knees, when sleeping on your back. This will help ease the stress on your lower back and keep your spine in the right position.
Being mindful of your body mechanics can help prevent injuries and increase the longevity of your spine health. Our therapists can help create a customized plan to suit your needs. Contact us to book your next appointment!