What Are Body Mechanics?
Body mechanics pertain to the position of your body when it's moving. Proper body mechanics are important for everyone and especially for people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions. Correct body position can help:
- relieve pain
- reduce stress on joints
- reduce the risk of injury
With every movement, as you stand, sit, walk, drive, lift, reach, push, pull, exercise, and even sleep, it's important to be aware of your body position. If you can improve your posture when moving, you are essentially protecting your joints.
How Do Proper Body Mechanics Protect Joints?
Proper body mechanics and specifically proper posture can:
- align bones and joints
- reduce wear and tear on joints
- reduce stress on supporting structures (e.g., ligaments) and joints
- strengthen the spine
- strengthen muscles
- prevent muscle pain
- conserve energy
How Can a Person Ensure Proper Posture?
Well-toned muscles, normal movement of the joints, and balanced muscle on the sides of the spine promote proper posture. That can be difficult for people with arthritis.
Good posture while standing implies that shoulder blades are back, chest forward, knees straight, and the top of your head should align with the ceiling. Your pelvis should not tilt. Arches of your feet should be supported with shoes.
When sitting in a chair, your buttocks should be all the way to the back of the chair. Your back should be straight and your shoulders should be back. Knees, bent at right angles, should be at the same height or higher than your hips. Feet should be flat on the floor.
A proper gait that incorporates good posture and good body mechanics will help conserve energy. Arthritis patients who have severely damaged joints or who have had joint surgery may have an abnormal gait. If you can still walk you should walk. Walking builds muscle strength that in turn helps to protect joints.
If you must lift something that's heavy, bend at your knees and hips and lower your body down to meet the object you are trying to pick up. Never bend at the waist while keeping your legs straight and reaching down to grasp the object.
There is a right way and a wrong way to move. Your body will be healthier and joints will be protected if you make a conscious effort to move the right way. If you need a little coaching, perhaps a consultation with a physical therapist would be helpful.
Body Mechanics. Drugs.com. 7/2007.
Tips for Good Body Mechanics. Ohio State University. 10/2006.