Align Your Spine for Better Body Mechanics
Taking care of your back is a life-long project. With the prevalence of back pain an alarming 60% among US adults, preventive measures are needed. The use of proper body mechanics is an effective way to prevent further injury to your back. When incorporated into activities of daily living, body mechanics help decrease the amount of stress on the spine. Education in body mechanics is therefore, essential in preventing the occurence of back pain.
The goal of body mechanics is to learn how to move the body so as to prevent further injury to the spine. Awareness of common mistakes and proper principles can only help to achieve this goal. One such principle concerns posture.
Poor posture is one of the main causes of neck and back injuries. Forward head position and rounded shoulders contribute to poor posture. Any desk or computer employee has probably been guilty of poor posture at some point in their career and can attest to the fact that it's a hard habit to break. Fortunately, there are a few simple exercises that can help.
- The chin tuck or, cervical retraction, involves sitting or standing erect while gently pulling your chin back to a comfortable position. Think of a turtle bringing his head back into his shell. This exercise should be performed in sets of ten, starting with one set and working up to two or three sets, several times daily.
"The positive effects on postural exercise are well-documented.Pearson, et al demonstrated improved posture after cervical retraction exercise.Improvement in spinal curvatures after implementation of cervical "chin tuck" exercise program has been documented. The important influence of the lumbar spine on cervical posture should not be forgotten. Maintaining a normal lordotic curvature of the lumbar spine promotes a healthier position of the cervical spine as well."
Harry N. Herkowitz, MD
- Shoulder squeezes or, scapular retractions, can also help improve posture. Shoulder squeezes involve bringing your elbows behind you while squeezing your shoulder blades together. This exercise should be performed ten to twenty times while holding the squeeze for a count of five. This motion increases mobility in your neck and back, making it easier to stand erect. Both of these exercises should be performed pain free. If pain does occurr, try decreasing both the number of sets and the frequency. If pain persists, stop the exercise and consult your physician.
Compliance towards the exercises required to maintain or improve posture will lead to proper spine alignment. This in turn, will help decrease the intensity and frequency of painful flare-ups. Slumped sitting or standing represents faulty body mechanics, and, although it is a common mistake, it must be improved upon. If both the head and shoulders remain erect and balanced throughout the day, regardless of the activity being performed, then the chance of future back pain has lessened.
This has been just one of many examples of faulty body mechanics. It is through the understanding of the basic principles of body mechanics, that we can strive to decrease back pain for ourselves and others. Why wait, start learning today!