Faulty Body Mechanics Cause Cumulative Stress Injuries | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 14 June 2012 12:05

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BY TANYA GROSSMAN, MPT

Special to the Times

Preventing injuries is always best. Good body mechanics can help you avoid injury, whether you are playing on the soccer field, typing at your desk or lifting your toddler.

How You Move

Body mechanics is the study of human movement — how the joints, muscles and bones work together during a particular motion or physical activity. There is an ideal way to move your body so that everything is in proper alignment, creating the least amount of stress.

Cumulative Stress

Poor body mechanics can be caused by bad posture, poor ergonomics at work and improper athletic technique. Each of these factors can affect the motion, or biomechanics, of the joint, as weakened or tired muscles no longer keep the joints in proper alignment.

When body parts become misaligned, wear and tear on the joints and muscles often occurs over time with repetitive motion.

For example, if you are sitting at your work desk incorrectly with your spine out of alignment, you can injure your lower back over time. And, craning your neck to view your computer screen, day in and day out, can cause a neck injury.

The accumulative effect of poor body mechanics can also affect athletes. Using improper technique, athletes, such as pitchers and golfers, can injure their shoulder joints from the cumulative trauma of repeatedly performing the same motion.

Conditioning

You may know how to stand with the correct posture, employ good ergonomics or pitch a ball with proper technique. However, if your muscles are not strong or flexible enough to help you keep your bones and joints in proper alignment, you will eventually be unable to maintain it.

Preventing Injuries

Be sure to take breaks at work and on the playing field. Even with perfect ergonomics, it’s hard to hold a position for longer than 45 minutes at our work desks.

Frequent rest periods can also help “weekend warriors,” or athletes who are not conditioned, to prevent overuse injuries.

Other preventative measures include:

•Exercising regularly and consistently

•Strengthening and stretching muscle groups

•Practicing good posture, ergonomics and technique

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can help you prevent further injury by evaluating your problem and helping determine physical factors that may be contributing to the pain.

Treatment most likely would also include body mechanics training and helping you find your “neutral position.” With regards to the spine, this is when each of the vertebrae is correctly aligned on top of one another.

We have neutral positions for other parts of our body, as well, where we can create the maximum amount of force with the minimum amount of stress to our joints, tendons and ligaments.

If you are injured, physical therapists have expertise in a wide variety of techniques to address the problem. Treatment would include:

•Thorough initial assessment to determine the factors contributing to your injury

•Ergonomic evaluations and posture training

•Rotator cuff stabilization for the shoulder

•Stability training for the core muscles — abdomen, lower back and hips

Other common physical therapy treatment modalities may include heat, ice, massage, electrical stimulation and ultrasound.

Ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist who can assess your body mechanics and develop a treatment plan to heal and prevent injuries.

Tanya Grossman, MPT, is a physical therapist at Eden Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility, 14207 East 14th Street, in San Leandro. For more information, call 510-618-1800 or visit edenmedcenter.org.

 

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