Our first thought as caregivers is to safeguard and ensure the safety of our patients and loved ones. Yet, our health and well-being can be easily overlooked. We need to take care of ourselves first to take care of others and that includes implementing proper body mechanics.
Body mechanics is a term used to describe the ways we move as we go about our daily lives. It includes how we hold our bodies when we sit, stand, lift, carry, bend, and sleep. Poor body mechanics are often the cause of back problems. When we do not move correctly and safely, the spine is subjected to abnormal stresses that can lead to injury. That is why it is so important to learn the basics of proper 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 lessen the effect of their weight.
- To prevent twisting injuries, move your torso—from your shoulders to your hips—as one solid unit.
- Use a wide base of support (feet spread apart). Keep your knees bent to make your legs work harder, reducing the stress on your back.
- Avoid quick, jerky movements.
- Face the direction that you will be moving.
- Never transfer patients when you are off balance or without assistance.
- Tighten abdominal muscles to help support your movements.
- Ask for help or use an available device for assistance.
Working in the healthcare setting is demanding on one’s body. Take your own advice and follow the recommendations we regularly give to patients: eat well, get enough rest, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Also, invest in shoes that are comfortable and good shock absorbers. With proper technique and exercise, one should be able to avoid an injury in the workplace.
Jessica Chavez, MSN, MBA, CNOR
Director, Clinical Services
Accountable Healthcare Staffing, Inc