Posture and Body Mechanics

The vertical orientation of the spine is unique in the human body. Our spines are vertical in orientation, with respect to the ground. Because of this vertical orientation, our joints of our spines are more weight-bearing structures in the human spine than they would be in other animals. The discs, joints, and other structures in the lumbar spine bear additional weights and pressures due to their location near our center of gravity. To provide some amount of cushioning for the structures of the spine, there are several structures that have protect the spinal bones and nerves. These structures include the cartilage in our facet joints and our intervertebral discs. The spinal ligaments also have some flexibility to them to allow for some downward movement of the spine as we add weight to it. The spinal curves in our spine also allow for an even distribution of weight and flexibility of movement. In healthy people with healthy backs, these anatomical structures are able to work together as a single unit to bear the weights that we place on it, without any pain or discomfort. On the other hand, there are many health factors that may occur which cause anatomical changes to our spine or inflammation of certain structures that are over-stressed or over-used. While most people immediately think or disc disease or arthritis as the cause of back pain; in fact posture and body mechanics may be the cause of a patient's symptoms.

Posture refers to the position of the human body as it is in various sedentary positions or while it is performing certain movements.

Body mechanics is a term related to posture and may refer to the way you use your body as a machine when it is in a relaxed position, working, playing, or in action.

When we use bad posture and body mechanics we may be more likely to stress the muscles, ligaments, discs, and other soft tissues that are either located within out spines or those that support them. When we use bad body mechanics as we work or play, we may stress the muscles or other soft tissues of our backs to the point where pain occurs. This pain may go away in a matter of days if we interrupt the types of body mechanics that got us injured in the first place. This neck pain or back pain may get progressively worse over time when we continue to work at our jobs or at home with body mechanics that are likely to un-stabilize the spine. If you think that your body mechanics are a contributing factor towards your back condition, than you may want to meet with a back specialist or take new stock in your work environment and what you can do to change it.

Office Environments: Do you work in some type of business or office environment that involves you spending large portions of the day in an office chair? If so, you are going to want to have a work environment that puts a minimum amount of stress on your neck and lower back. You are going to want an office chair that gives you a significant amount of back support. More importantly, you will want to make sure that you are working at your desk with a straight back and a straight neck. Problems caused by poor posture and back support: Various lifestyle factors, such as obesity and poor posture can add stress to the spine and strain the back muscles. In the short term, these structures have a great capacity to recover if they are allowed the chance to heal and you inhibit the types of body mechanics that caused the initial injury. Over time, repeated poor posture may change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, leading to problems that may not be easily correctable. Continued bad posture may constrict the nerves and blood vessels, as well as the joints, discs, and muscles. Continued constriction of these soft tissues may cause neck pain and back pain. Eventually these stresses may cause irritation of the joints, herniations of the discs, and movement of the vertebra out of their normal position. These anatomical changes to the spine may be experienced as a variety of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, fatigue, and headaches. Significant changes to the shape of the spine may also affect our internal organs within the body cavities affected by these changes.

Identifying good posture and bad posture: One of the key ideas behind the concept of good posture is in general, the back should be straight, whether we are sitting behind a desk, walking, pulling heavy objects, or lifting heavy objects. Our backs should never be bent or twisted when we are lifting or transporting objects of considerable size. Beyond that, there are several other key concepts to understand.

Having good posture means keeping each part or section of the body in an ideal alignment with the neighboring parts. When all of the parts of the body are in their correct alignment, no section is forced to take on burdens beyond which they were designed to bear.