What is Body Mechanics? Body Mechanics according to Colorado Comprehensive Spine Institute is a term used to describe the way we move as we go about our daily lives. It includes how we hold our bodies when we sit, stand, lift, carry, bend and sleep.
Body Mechanics when not done properly are often the cause of back problem that can lead to degeneration of spinal structures like discs and joints, injury and unnecessary wear and tear. It is important to learn how to maintain proper body mechanics that can be incorporated in our daily lives to save us from back pain and discomfort.
I remember when I was a child, my father would often remind me to stand up straight, pull my shoulders back and lift my chest. Which I am very glad he did as it is saving me those back pain. Although once in a while, I still would have discomfort especially because of my occupation as a nurse.
Rushing, poor habits, stress and being fatigued are a few reasons where nurses or any healthcare professionals forget to properly use a good body mechanics. With heavy loads and too many tasks at hand while working in an acute care hospital, maintaining proper body mechanics are sometimes being missed which is why back problems and injuries has become common issues with health care workers.
Good body mechanics are based on good posture. Good posture is when the spine is in a neutral or sloppy S position. It is usually regarded as the most comfortable position which is considered the neutral position of the spine.
So what is posture? Posture as described by Cleveland Clinic is the position in which we hold our body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. It is beneficial to keep a good posture by training our body to stand, walk, sit and lie in a way where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight bearing activities.
How Do We Keep A Good Posture
Now that I practice yoga, I am learning and practicing more about good posture and how to balance my spine that it is becoming second nature for me to keep that spine in a neutral position. As what my yoga instructor taught me, keeping our spine in neutral position is when our back is not too rounded forward and not arched back too far which is very helpful as a nurse because we walk, lift, push, pull and turn patients a lot.
So let me share with you the steps to follow on how to keep a good posture.
Steps To Follow To Maintain A Good Posture
- Stand with your feet apart.
- Create a small hollow in your lower back by tucking the tailbone in and tilting your pelvic bone slightly forward. This is done by tightening the muscles of the buttocks and thus, rotating the pelvis into the neutral position. Do not arch too much ‘though.
- Pull the shoulders back and lift your chest.
- Lift your chin until it is level and relax your jaw and mouth.
Keeping a good posture and being aware of how to maintain it is very important as it is best to ensure that we are all using a good body mechanics for our safety and health of our spine.
Why Is It Important To Use Proper Body Mechanics
First off, let me tell you how to maintain a proper body mechanics when lifting. Since I am a nurse, we pull, lift, push and turn patients, sometimes as heavy as 300 lbs. to 500 lbs. Yes we have help and some devices or equipment that we can use but it is still very important to maintain a proper body mechanics as our spine and back is as good as how we maintain them.
So when lifting an object:
- Asses the weight of the load before lifting anything and if it is heavy ask for help.
- Our feet should be apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other.
- Our back should be straight.
- We should be bending on our hips and knees.
- No bending at the waist.
- We should be lifting objects using our arm and leg muscles.
- Make sure that the object is close to the body and at the waist level.
- And this process can also be used when pushing or pulling something heavy.
- Do not lift from a twisted or sideways position.
- Avoid lifting from a forward stooped / imbalanced position.
- Do not lift heavy objects higher than the shoulder.
- Consider pushing heavy items on wheeled carts rather than carrying.
- Make several trips of smaller loads when carrying groceries.
Proper Body Mechanics Is Important Because:
- It will help avoid injury and muscle fatigue.
- To avoid back problems.
- When we don’t move correctly and safely, the spine is subjected to abnormal stresses that over time can lead to degeneration of spinal structures like discs and joints.
- To prevent unnecessary wear and tear of our joints and ligaments.
- To maintain our healthy spine.
- For prevention of back pain and discomfort.
- As a healthcare professionals, using proper body mechanics protects patients also when they are being assisted.
- It prevents musculo skeletal injuries and deformities.
- Poor posture can cause kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis and other deformities of the spine.
- A good posture helps promote physiological functions of the body and can assist in circulation and digestion.
- It can also eliminate from exerting too much energy when undertaking a certain task such as lifting or pulling.
- It will also help in maintaining balance of the body without putting unnecessary strain on the body.
- It will avoid causing injury to assisting staff member.
Back pain is one of the biggest issue in healthcare, economically and socially. It is usually the reason for sickness or absenteeism because it is a significant occupational health problems in all areas of health care provision. There’s a high percentage of healthcare professionals who suffers from permanent back injuries which mostly was caused by handling of patients and poor posture.
Back problems and other musculoskeletal disorders are one of the main reasons why currently there is increasing shortage of healthcare workers. Around eighty percent of the population can develop lower back pain at some point during their life because of poor posture and poor body mechanics, so hopefully with this topic, I was able to stress their importance.
If you want to share any story regarding the topic, I would love to hear it. For questions and comments please leave them down below.