The MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio
What are Body Mechanics?
What Are Ergonomics?
What Is Proper Posture?
Definition and Rationale for Body Mechanics
Good body mechanics are defined as maintenance of proper body alignment during activities. Activities could include normal daily tasks within the household or workplace. Employing correct body mechanics will help reduce unnecessary stress to your body, thus decreasing risk of injury and enhancing healing once an injury has already occurred.
The following are basic ideas to think about and utilize to improve your body mechanics at home or work:
- Know what you are lifting and know the surrounding environment. Know the size, weight, and stability of the object in order to make sure it can be lifted safely by you or with the assistance of another person. Make as clear a path as possible to avoid obstacles.
- Maintain normal curves of your back. Bend the hips/knees, not the back, keeping your back straight.
- Maintain a wide base of support. A wide or staggered base of support will improve your stability and reduce the risk of losing your footing.
- Keep objects close to your body; this decreases stress to your back as the load is close to your body’s center of gravity.
- Minimize twisting. Pivot your feet or move your entire body to change directions in order to decrease stress to your back.
- Lift with your legs. Utilizing legs and large muscles will diminish the workload to the back.
- Push an object. Pushing the object, as opposed to pulling, increases to the weight advantage, making it easier on your back.
- Tighten stomach muscle. Reduce strain to the back by using stomach muscles to create your own protective corset as you move objects.
Definition and Rationale for Ergonomics
Ergonomics is defined as the adapting of one’s environment to best fit your body type and specific activities for that area. The environment should be adapted to you and not you adapting to the environment. Appropriate ergonomics reduces fatigue, stress, and can increase efficiency. Common problems with poor ergonomic situations can be repetitive traumas, such as overuse injuries.
Factors That Contribute to Good Ergonomics Are:
- Make use of good body mechanics. Posture and positioning play a key role in worksite ergonomics.
- Keep all tools and equipment needed close. Minimizing unnecessary movements reduces stress to your body.
- Use appropriate tools. Proper fit and operation of a tool and appropriate safeguards minimize risk of injury.
- Take regular breaks. Pacing yourself and taking appropriate and periodic breaks helps reduce fatigue.
- Keep fit. Regular exercise and a good diet can optimize your body’s preparedness fora job or activity. Consult with the appropriate health professional prior to dieting or implementing an exercise program.
Definition and Rationale for Posture
Good posture is defined as maintenance of appropriate spinal curvatures while either sitting, standing, or performing activities. Maintaining these natural curves helps keep the body straight and minimizes the potential stress to muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine. Poor posture can have detrimental effects to many areas, including the low back, mid back, and neck. When improper posture is sustained for longer periods of time (such as at standing activities at work or sitting at a computer) muscles can become weak and tired. These same muscles can become chronically over stretched or shortened and be a cause of preventable ongoing discomfort.
Appropriate treatment can be implemented to treat postural dysfunctions. Certain exercises, such as stretching and strengthening, can be used to help realign and then train the body to maintain correct or improved postures to reduce the risk of continued pain. Postural awareness is difficult throughout the course of a day, but the more you practice the more the body becomes accustomed to this improved posture. Muscles can adapt appropriately and then postural awareness will become second nature as your pain and discomfort improve.
- The head should be maintained directly over the neck with your chin level.
- Check to see if your ears are over the shoulders.
- The shoulders should be pulled back (but not exaggerated) so as to prevent slumping forward.
- The mid back should also be fairly straight and avoiding the same slumping tendency.
- The shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in line from top to bottom.
- It is helpful to have the hips and knees as close to 90 degree angles while sitting.
- Maintaining appropriate muscle strength and flexibility (as prescribed by a health professional) allows good postural alignment to be easily achieved and not feel like work.