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Good Body Mechanics for Health Care Workers

At work, you perform many tasks every day that could cause back injury. These include repetitive lifting, prolonged standing, bending, reaching, pushing, and pulling. Protect your back by using good body mechanics to maintain the three natural curves of your spine.

Healthcare provider viewed from side with spinal column visible in back. Closeup of vertebrae with disks between them. Nerves exit from spaces between back of vertebrae. Good posture keeps spine and muscles balanced, protecting disks, nerves, and vertebrae from injury.

A Balanced Spine

  • A balanced spine is made of bones (vertebrae) and pads of cartilage (disks) arranged in three natural curves.

  • Your neck (cervical curve) supports your head. And your middle back (thoracic curve) is supported by your rib cage.

  • Your lower back (lumbar curve) carries more than its fair share, balancing your entire upper body. This extra load and the mobility of the lumbar curve make it the most susceptible to injury.

Using Good Body Mechanics

Moving your body correctly is a skill that requires your constant attention. How well you perfect the skill can mean the difference between a fatigued or injured back and a healthy back. Below are a few tips to help you use good body mechanics.

  • Hold loads close to your body to minimize the effect of their weight.

  • To prevent twisting injuries, move your torso—from your shoulders to your hips—as one solid unit.

  • Keep your knees bent to make your legs work harder, reducing the stress on your back.

  • Avoid quick, jerky movements.

  • Tighten abdominal muscles to help support your movements.

 

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