Body Mechanics and Your Spine: Tips 7 - 10

Part 5 of 5

Peer Reviewed

Tip # 7: Toilet and Sink Use
Use the strength in the arms and legs when getting on and off the toilet. Bending at the waist while lowering your body places great stress on the spine. Avoid bending and twisting to reach toilet paper. You may need to relocate the toilet paper for safer access.

To keep the upper body weight off the spine, keep your back straight. Try placing one hand on the countertop (if close!) and one hand on your thigh. This will help support the spine and body weight.

If toileting is difficult it could be because the toilet seat is too low. Try an elevated toilet seat; available at many drug stores and medical supply shops.

Most sinks are simply positioned too low! Bending over the sink to brush your teeth is simply unwise. Instead, use one hand to support your body in a more upright position to keep the spine straight.
 

Tip # 8: Chairs and Sitting
Illustration of ergonomic work stationOne of the best investments is a good, ergonomically designed, chair! Whether you are working at a desk or watching television the right chair is helpful for good posture, body mechanics and comfort.

The way you sit is as important as what you sit on! Position your buttocks at the rear of the seat. If you are short you may need a cushion to fill the gap between your buttocks and the back of the chair seat. When properly seated there should be some space between the back of the knees and the chair seat. Lean your spine against the back of the chair to relax muscles in the spine.

If your chair is equipped with a lumbar support adjust it to fit the curve in your low back. A towel rolled up can be used as a lumbar support. Lumbar supports can also be purchased at medical supply shops, specialty stores and over the Internet.

Make sure the armrests are positioned to support the weight of your arms. This allows the neck and shoulders to relax.

A footrest can help you maintain good posture. Position the footrest so the knees are level with the hip joint.

Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. Get up, walk and stretch!

Tip # 9: Working at a Desk or Computer Workstation
With the right chair and a few accessories you can make working at a desk ergonomically correct. Work directly facing the desk or computer. The monitor should be at eye level and visible with out turning the head or body. A document holder attached to the side of the monitor can make manuscript-typing neck friendly. An articulating arm can be used to house the keyboard at the correct height for working and can be easily pushed to the side when not needed.

If you spend a great deal of time talking on the phone, try using a headset. This will help you avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder. Headsets also allow both hands to be free.

Tip # 10: Should I Push or Pull?
Pushing is the correct answer. 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.

Closing Thoughts About Good Body Mechanics and Prevention
There are hundreds of other principles of body mechanics you can incorporate into activities. It would be impossible to list every possible scenario and solution. Consider your posture and how you can make better use of good body mechanics. Your spine specialist or physical therapist will be happy to assist you!

Updated on: 03/04/16
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Use Good Body Mechanics to Help Keep Your Spine Safe
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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Use Good Body Mechanics to Help Keep Your Spine Safe

This article offers excellent tips that can be incorporated into your daily life and help you improve your body mechanics. Good posture, which comes from correct body mechanics, can help minimize the risk of injury to your spine.
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