Body Mechanics: The Definitive Guide

September 17, 2019
Mobility
Author: 
Joel Runyon

Body mechanics – it might sound like a term you hear at your local card dealer – but body mechanics have nothing to do with your car – it’s all about your body.

If you’re looking for an in-depth primer on all things body mechanics, what’s involved with body mechanics, what constitutes proper mechanics and and how you can improve your body mechanics – you’re in the right place.

Let’s go.

Body Mechanics Definition

If you have poor body mechanics, it can cause injury and discomfort. For athletes who have poor body mechanics, often

A great example of this is how NBA athlete – Russell Westbrook changed his running form to become more injury-resistant and more explosive.

How Russell Westbrook Changed his Running Body Mechanics

That said – even if you’re not an NBA level athlete – you can see major improvements just by making small tweaks to how you go throughout your daily life. Here’s how:

Proper Body Mechanics

So what’s the difference between proper and improper body mechanics?

Proper body mechanics will have you getting stronger, getting injured less and performing at a higher level overall.

Improper body mechanics will lead to pain, discomfort and often – a whole lot of injury and regret that you wanted to avoid.

Proper Standing Body Mechanics

Standing in one place sounds pretty simple, but as any retail or restaurant employee can tell you – spending time on your feet takes it’s toll.

Here’s how to make sure you hurt less.

  • Avoid standing in one position for too long. Change it regularly as it will alleviate stress on your joints but also improve blood flow and circulation.
  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Is is not just good posture, but has been shown to change other people’s perspective of how they perceive you.
  • Get comfortable shoes that are supportive. You may find ones without good support will hurt your arches if standing for long periods of time.

Proper Sitting Body Mechanics

Most people spend 8+ hours every day at their job sitting. So, if you’re going to be sitting that long – you better make sure you’re doing it right.

Here’s some tips to make sure your body mechanics while standing are on point.

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90º angle so you’re grounded and in one spot.
  • Use the Aku mat or a lacrosse ball to stimulate your feet while working.
  • Keep your shoulders back and keep your head back with your chin level.
  • Keep your arms level and don’t hunch or reach with your body.
  • If you sit for long periods of time – find a chair that is either supportive or use an object to help support your lower back.
  • Take breaks – doing anything for long periods of time can be uncomfortable – make sure you’re getting up and moving at least every 2 hours.
  • Considering implementing a pomodoro technique and moving in between each pomodoro.

Side note – this is why we have tons of routines in MoveWell to help you undo the damage sitting causes all day.

Proper Lifting Body Mechanics

Moving? Rearranging the living room? Just like picking heavy things up and down in the gym? Well, if you’re lifting objects, make sure your body mechanics are on point so you can do it correctly.

  • When lifting something, move as close as you can to the object. Avoid leaning too far forward to lift the item.
  • Make sure you’re facing the object with your feet shoulder-width apart. Don’t twist and lift. One motion at a time.
  • When lifting, remember the sage advice from the movie “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” – lift with your legs, not with your back (to be honest, I have no idea why I remember that quote, but it stood out to me even as a kid)

“Now, uh, lift with your legs, not with your back.”

Honey I Shrunk The Kids
  • If you’re reaching for something – be sure that your feet are stable and you won’t slip or roll your ankle on an un-firm surface.

Proper Sleeping Body Mechanics

Body mechanics while sleeping? Sounds a little overkill, huh? But have you ever woke up in the morning with a stiff neck? Or a pain in your shoulder? It’s probably cause you’re sleeping wrong.

If that sounds bad – don’t worry – it just means you can do it better (and sleep better too).

The main thing we want to focus on is maintaining a supported and neutral spine – even when you’re unconscious –

Here’s some tips on how to do just that:

  • Sleep on a firm mattress that supports your spine and your back.
  • If you have neck or back problems, do your best to sleep on your side or your back in order to maintain a position that doesn’t make the injury worse.
  • In general – avoid positions that force your body into an arch or unnaturally stress your body.
  • Avoid oversized pillows that knock your head out of a alignment with the rest of your body.

Body Mechanics Handout / Printout (PDF)

Check out this quick poster you can use on body mechanics. If you’re a gym owner, feel free to put it up on your walls.

Download Body Mechanics by MoveWell

You can purchase your own version here.

Body Mechanics Related Blog Posts

Now here’s the thing – if you’re ready to take improving your body mechanics seriously – here’s a short list of other posts you’re going to want to dig into.

Additional Body Mechanics Resources

If you’re looking for the best body mechanic resources not on this site – you’re in luck – we’ve rounded them all up here.

Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell.

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