Body mechanics refers to the way we move our body. Using good body mechanics at work and at home can prevent many of the causes of back pain. To minimize injury to your spine you need to be proactive and learn some basic "preventive" body activities. As we age our spines change. Trauma, wear and tear, disease and poor body mechanics can alter the structural integrity of the spine.
Minimize bending and twisting. Avoid reaching out when lifting.
One movement that tends to aggravate back pain, more than others, is bending and twisting simultaneously. Reaching out over an obstruction to lift, hold, or lower an object is also especially bad for the back.
Store at waist height, or tilt the load.
The heaviest and most frequently used items should be stored at waist height. This can help make it easier to face the object, get close, and pull it toward your body, while maintaining good posture. Lighter and less frequently used items can be stored on higher, or lower, shelves. Lifting which occurs below knee height or above shoulder height is more strenuous. For a long lift, such as floor to shoulder height, consider resting the load mid-way on a table or bench to change your grip. Obstructions which prevent body contact with the object being lifted increase the risk of injury. When practical, it is often quite helpful to tilt the item on edge with its long axis straight up, so that the center of the weight is as high as possible above the ground.
Push, instead of pull.
Always push, not pull, the object when possible. When you push an object you use the muscles in your legs and back. When pulling, some people have the tendency to use their back muscles to yank and pull. It is easier to keep your back straight while pushing. Lean into the object using your body weight to help push the object. Of course, some items (such as hoses, chains, ropes, and cables) can’t be pushed. When you need to pull things manually think of it as a "sideways lift." Adopt a wide stance, try to keep your back straight, and use leg power to do the pulling.
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