Ergonomics & Body Mechanics

Body Mechanics refers to how one uses their body. Sitting, standing, bending, lifting, working etc. with poor postural positions are instances of using poor body mechanics. The term “Ergonomics” is derived from two Greek words: “ergon”, meaning work and “nomoi”, meaning natural laws. Ergonomists study human capabilities in relationship to work demands. Ergonomics generally refers to creating a healthier work, home or driving environment to decrease stress on the body. When patients come in with pain, part of the physical therapist’s job is to assess the patient’s home and work environment to see if there is anything they are doing at home or work that could be contributing to their pain.
At home we focus on sleeping position and type of pillow and mattress used. We also look at how they sit at home and in the car. Lifting objects from varying heights is also very important to look at.

At work we look at how they sit. Is their back supported? Are their legs dangling? How far is the computer monitor from them, and is it directly in front of them? How much computer work, mouse use or writing do they do? Pictures of their work place are often very helpful. Are they in a constant hunched static position with shoulders elevated all day? How do they use the phone? Do they hold the phone between their ear and shoulder?

In recent years, ergonomists have attempted to define postures which minimize unnecessary static work and reduce the forces acting on the body. All of us could significantly reduce our risk of injury if we could adhere to the following ergonomic principles:

• All work activities should permit the worker to adopt several different, but
  equally healthy and safe postures
• Where muscular force has to be exerted it should be done by the largest
  appropriate muscle groups available.
• Work activities should be performed with the joints at about mid-point of their
  range of movement. This applies particularly to the head, trunk, and upper

Therefore, in order to derive the benefits of ergonomic research, we must learn how to observe our bodies in a new way. Any attempt to improve workplace conditions can have only limited success if this issue is ignored. At Therapeutic System we will look at each patient’s particular needs and make the necessary recommendations
All Content © 2005 Therapeutic Systems, Inc.