Body Mechanics

Few of us pay much attention to the way we walk, sit, or stand when we perform these simple everyday activities. We simply do it. But proper body mechanics — which means keeping your skeleton in good alignment — are important, especially when your body is in pain. The key is to move and perform in ways that do not aggravate pain.

Sitting at Work

These days, many people spend hours sitting at a computer or desk. Even if you don't work at a desk, you might have one at home where you work on a computer for research, entertainment, or e-mailing friends. But if you practice poor body mechanics at your desk or don't have an ergonomically sound setup, you could be causing your body added stress, strain, and pain.

In order to minimize pain caused from your workstation, it's important to make sure your chair and desk are properly adjusted and that you use them correctly. For starters, make sure your desk is elbow high. Adjust your computer screen so that it is eighteen to thirty inches from your eyes, or at about arm's length, and directly centered in front of you. Position your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to your thighs when your feet are flat on the floor. And if you use the phone a lot, get one that has a headset. Other tips for desk workers include these:

  • Keep objects you use regularly within easy reach.

  • When sitting, make sure your knees are level with your hips.

  • Use a swivel chair so that you can turn to talk to someone and not twist your body.

  • Keep wrists straight and neutral when typing, and don't let them bend up, down, or to the side.

  • Consider using voice recognition software to reduce your typing needs.

  • Use your entire arm, not just your hand, when you move a mouse.

  • Take short breaks and stretch your arms and fingers.

Driving

Make sure to position your seat so that you are close enough to the steering wheel without stretching and are still safe. Sit with your knees level with your hips. To support your lower back, use a rolled-up towel or commercial back support.

Kitchen Duty

Standing for long periods at a time at a kitchen counter can become a strain on anyone with aches and pains. Try propping one foot on a small footstool, an open drawer, or the ledge of an open cabinet door while you're standing. Make sure to stand up straight (see below). Use food processors, mixers, and other tools to reduce the wear and tear on your arms. Do some tasks sitting, if possible. Prepare foods ahead of time whenever you can. This will break up kitchen chores into smaller jobs that require less time.

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