Body Mechanics

Body mechanics is a somewhat ungainly term for a relatively straightforward concept. The term refers broadly to the way in which we use our bodies and the different parts of our bodies as we go about the day-to-day business of living. Whether or not we hold our backs straight when brushing our teeth or lean on our elbows when reading or use a wrist rest when typing at a keyboard or run with our feet turned inward or carry heavy loads in a backpackall these issues are issues of body mechanics. And how they are resolved has significant consequences. This is because, for all its remarkable versatility, the body is still a somewhat delicate piece of machinery. While its various components the bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, disks, bursae, and other structuresmake the body capable of impressive physical feats, they do have their limits. And if we use our bodies in ways that place too much stress on one or more of these structures, they can easily be damaged. It is essential, then, to your bodys general health and well-being that you practice proper body mechanicsbody mechanics that keep the stresses within a manageable range. This is, of course, easier said than done. After all, proper body mechanics are not always immediately identifiable. Just because a particular practice is painless doesnt mean that it represents proper body mechanics. Indeed, many practices that feel just fine are actually quite harmful, and the ill effects may make themselves felt hours, days, orif the practice becomes a habiteven months or years later. It may, for example, take a long evening of watching television with your chin resting comfortably in your palm before your jaw feels the unpleasant consequences. (on the other hand, a practice that doesnt feel right is almost certainly not proper body mechanics. ) at any rate, some practices may do their damage even before youve had a chance to find out if theyre painless; by the time youve reached into the back seat to retrieve a bag of groceries, for example, you may have already given your back a severe strain. Furthermore, the familiar itinerary of everyday lifewith its workplace duties, household chores, sports, and similar activities offers almost unlimited opportunities to use the body improperly. Everything from sitting at a desk to painting a ceiling to swinging a golf club has the capacity to cause injury. And in the absence of clear knowledge of how best to tackle these common challenges, poor body mechanics are almost inevitable, at least occasionally. Although it would be impossible to create a comprehensive rule book containing appropriate body mechanics for each and every human activity, the following catalogue of dos and donts covers some of the most common. (actually, there are many more donts than dos, a reflection in part of the many creative ways in which people have found to do themselves harm. ) some affect just a single body part, like the jaw or the elbow; others affect quite a few. But all are very much worth heeding in the interest of keeping your body healthy. Do maintain proper posture while standing, sitting, or lying down. Failure to do so can cause trouble for your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, andwhen standingeven your feet.

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