What Are Body Mechanics?


"Body mechanics" is a two-word phrase used to describe the movements we make each day during normal activities, including lying in bed, sitting, standing, lifting, pulling, pushing and walking. Body mechanics can be both good and bad and can have direct effects on back pain. Good body mechanics will help remedy and prevent future back problems, while bad body mechanics contribute to back problems and other muscle and bone problems.

Standing Posture

  • Good body mechanics for standing include wearing shoes that provide support both for the back and for the arches of the feet. Women who like to wear dressy, heeled shoes for special occasions should wear them only when a lot of standing is not required. Feet should be placed flat on the floor and kept approximately one foot apart. For great body mechanics, keep your back straight. Avoid standing or walking for very long periods and on uneven surfaces.

Sitting Posture

  • Sit in chairs with straight backs, when possible, and use a pillow or rolled-up blanket or towel for lower back support. Avoid sitting for long periods and take breaks to move around. Keep objects you need within easy reach to avoid slouching and inappropriate positions of your back and spine. Elevate your legs to keep from getting tired, and use seating that allows you to sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor.

Moving Posture

  • Different postures are recommended for good body mechanics for pushing, pulling and carrying objects. Carry objects close to the body and lift with your legs, keeping your back straight. Never carry objects that are too heavy for you and place strain on your back. When pushing or pulling, use the full weight of your body and remember to keep your back as straight as possible.

Lying Posture

  • Body mechanics also affect your back when you are lying in bed. When lying on your side, put a pillow between your knees to keep your spine straightened and prevent strain to your back. When lying on your back, use a pillow under your knees to keep your body aligned and prevent your spine from curving during sleep.


  • Practicing good posture and good body mechanics will take a while to get used to. A physical therapist can help you use good body mechanics. If a physical therapist is unavailable, try using a yardstick to keep your back straight as you go about normal daily activities. Keeping the back straightened will be painful until you get used to it, because more muscles are utilized in standing or sitting upright than when slouching.

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