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Body Mechanics and Your Spine: Tips 4 - 6

Part 4 of 5

Peer Reviewed
Tip # 4: Mimic the Golfer’s Pick Up Trick
Have you ever watched a golfer pick up a ball or place their tee? The body mechanics they have been taught to use can benefit non-golfers too. This method makes it safer to pick a lightweight object off the floor and come back to a standing position without using the muscles in the low back. Follow these easy steps:

  • Face the object
  • Place all your body weight on one leg
  • Using the hand on the un-weighted side, lean on the golf club
  • Slightly bend the weighted knee
  • Bend straight over from the hip keeping the back straight
  • As you bend let the un-weighted leg come off the floor in line with the upper body

The un-weighted leg acts as a counterbalance to the upper body weight reducing the stress to the spine. Reverse the steps to come to a standing position.

Tip # 5: Reaching Up, Down or All Around
Many of the same principles of good body mechanics in lifting apply to reaching. You will need to determine the object’s weight and size, its location and planned destination. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance!

Remember the basics: (1) clear obstacles out of the way, (2) get close to the object, (3) face the object, (4) use your legs and feet for proper stable positioning, (5) determine the best way to hold the object, (6) maintain good posture and (7) do not bend and twist simultaneously.

If a ladder or stepstool is required to access the object make sure it is stable and adequate to position your body close to the object. Standing on tiptoes places your body in a precarious position! Use one hand for additional support.

Avoid body positions that hyperextend the neck such as looking overhead especially for prolonged periods of time. This can cause stress to the spine resulting in pain!

Tip # 6: Smart Storage
Plan how you will store things to make them easy to get to and remove. 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.

Consider using more than one canister to hold that five-pound bag of flour. Dividing the weight can make it easier to remove and replace items. Apply this principle in the kitchen, bathroom, closets and garage.

Updated on: 09/07/12
Brian R. Subach, MD
In this article, Dr. Garfin does an excellent job explaining the normal structure and function of the spine. The emphasis on body mechanics is also extremely important. As a spine surgeon, I firmly believe that a significant number of the patients I see use poor body mechanics when performing activities related to their daily personal lives and careers. This may contribute to both injury and spinal degeneration. I highly recommend this well-written article as necessary basic information for the physician and patient alike.
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Body Mechanics and Your Spine: Tips 7 - 10

Tips 7 through 10 to help you improve your body mechanics and keep your spine safe.
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