Principles of Proper Body Mechanics: How OT and PT Can Help You!
Everyone needs to know about the principles of proper body mechanics. In this article, we will discuss why it is important and how occupational therapy and physical therapy can help you prevent injury by practicing proper body mechanics.
What are good body mechanics?
Good body mechanics involves practicing good posture as you move while going about your daily activities. It includes movement that you do while sitting, standing, lifting objects, carrying things, bending, and sleeping.
Why is it important to practice the principles of proper body mechanics?
Practicing proper body mechanics makes it easier for you to pull and push as well as lift objects. It helps reduce stress and strain on your body. This, in turn, helps prevent you from getting injured.
Also, your muscles work best when they are used correctly. Having less strain and stress on your body also helps conserve your energy. Overall, practicing proper body mechanics helps ensure your safety from unnecessary strain and fatigue while helping you conserve your energy.
What risks and injuries result from not practicing body mechanics basics?
Improper body mechanics can result in severe injuries. These injuries can take place immediately or over time due to certain repetitive movements:
Shoulder and neck pain
Individuals who work desk jobs usually suffer from shoulder and neck pain. This is mostly due to poor posture. If you work at an office, you probably sit at your desk facing a computer for extended periods. Eventually, you end up in a slumped position with your neck protruding forward. This could result in your trapezius muscles in the back and neck to tighten and become overworked. This can also shorten and weaken your chest muscles.
Lower back pain
Poor sitting posture and arching of the lower back can result in lower back pain. Improper posture puts unnecessary stress, strain, and pressure on the muscles and ligaments of your back. Your muscles become overworked and you begin to experience muscle spasms.
Poor posture can cause shoulder impingement. When you sit at a desk in a slouched position, your lower back muscles weaken and your chest muscles tighten. Your shoulder joints are in a forward position, becoming strained over time and eventually results in pain.
Patellofemoral knee pain
This pain at the front part of the knee is caused by an overuse injury. The pain worsens when you go down the stairs and when you try to stand up after sitting for a long time. This type of pain is more common among women and has been attributed to the fact that females have a wider pelvis. Since women have a wider pelvis, they tend to have an increased angle between the thigh bone and the patella tendon in the knee. This is the reason why females are more prone to suffer from this type of pain.
Sciatica is typically the result of overworking your muscles resulting in the compression of the nerve. You feel pain down the back of your legs. Some people say they feel acute pain in their buttocks that spreads to their lower back and down to their thighs and feet. You feel pain while going up the stairs and your ability to move your hip joint is reduced.
To prevent pain, injuries, and ultimately, disability, you need to learn the principles of proper body mechanics.
What are the principles of proper body mechanics?
It is important to note that the principles of proper body mechanics involve three major factors: base of support, center of gravity, and line of gravity.
- The wider your base of support and the lower your center of gravity, the greater your stability.
- Your equilibrium is maintained as long as your line of gravity passes through your base of support.
- When your line of gravity shifts outside your base of support, the amount of energy required for you to maintain your equilibrium is increased.
- Your equilibrium is maintained with least effort when your base of support is broadened in the direction in which your movement occurs.
- When you stoop with hips and knees flexed and your trunk in good alignment, this helps distribute your workload among your largest and strongest muscle groups. This helps prevent back strain.
- Keeping your center of gravity as close as possible to the center of gravity of the workload to be moved helps prevent you from doing unnecessary reaching and strain on your back muscles.
- Pulling an object directly toward or pushing directly away from your center of gravity will help prevent strain on your back and abdominal muscles.
- Facing the direction of movement will help prevent undesirable twisting of your spine.
- Push, pull or slide an object on a surface instead of lifting. This requires less effort as lifting which involves moving the weight of the object against the pull of gravity.
- Instead of lifting an object, roll, turn or pivot an object since this requires less effort since you can use the momentum and leverage required for these actions.
- Move an object on a level surface instead of an inclined surface. The pull of gravity is less on a level surface.
- Contract your stabilizing muscle before any activity (pushing, pulling, and lifting). This will help protect ligaments and joints from strain and injury.
- Divide balanced activity between your arms and legs to protect your back from strain.
- Various positions and activities will help you maintain good muscle tone and prevent fatigue.
- Prevent fatigue by alternating periods of rest and activity.
Although it was mentioned earlier that pushing, pulling, sliding, rolling or turning an object would be better than lifting it, there are times when lifting is the only way to move things. For this, you need to know the lifting body mechanics you need to prevent pain or injury:
- Stand with your feet apart. This helps you create a strong foundation before you lift.
- Remember to bend at your knees, not at your waist.
- Your neck, back, hips, and feet should be aligned when you move.
- Avoid twisting and bending at your waist.
How can OT and PT help you practice proper body mechanics?
Occupational therapists and physical therapists can help educate you about the principles of proper body mechanics. They can help you understand and practice these principles when sitting, standing, lifting, and even while you are sleeping.
They can help you improve the strength and endurance of your postural musculature.
At Vigor Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, we have physical therapists and occupational therapists who can help you learn and master the principles of proper body mechanics. They have the expertise and years of experience required to help you achieve the best quality of life you can achieve through physical and occupational therapy and overall health management.
Vigor Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation is a therapist-owned physical and occupational therapy practice that provides patients with topnotch, personalized, patient-centric care.
Contact us today to book an appointment.