Proper body mechanics and good posture during everyday activities can prevent overloading your bones. Excessive loading of your bones can result in a fracture, or bone break if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis.
When performing your daily activities, keep the following tips in mind:
- Proper posture is key. In order to prevent excessive loading of the bones in your back, you need to maintain proper posture. Always keep your head stacked over your shoulders and your shoulders stacked over your hips. You should sit and stand with a neutral spine position, being careful to avoid slouched, or bent over, postures.
- Avoid spinal flexion during your everyday activities. Instead of rounding your back to reach down for something in front of you, bend at your hips and knees to keep your spine straight.
- Avoid twisting your spine during your everyday activities. Move your feet when you need to turn rather than twisting your back during daily activities or exercises.
Here’s how to use these tips to move safely during 5 common everyday activities.
How to get up out of a chair and sit back down
When standing up from a seated position, start by scooting forward in your chair. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor with your knees and feet about hip width apart. Keeping your back straight, lean your trunk forward so that you your nose is forward over your toes. This should give you momentum to use your legs to stand up. If you have poor strength or poor balance, you may use your hands on armrests or the edge of your seat to help you perform this task.
To return back to a seated position, first be sure that the backs of your legs are close to the surface you are about to sit on. Again, bend at your hips and knees, keeping your back straight, as you lower your hips to the chair.
How to get into and out of bed
To safely get into bed, first sit down on the edge of your bed. As described above, you should bend at your hips and knees (not your back) as you sit down, keeping your back straight. Next, lower your trunk down into a side lying position as you simultaneously swing your feet up onto the bed. From here you can choose to stay on your side, or roll onto your back.
To get out of bed, reverse the process. Get into a side lying position facing the edge of the bed you are about to get up from. Then swing your feet down off the edge of the bed as you simultaneously use your arms to help push your trunk up to a sitting position. Before standing up, make sure you are not lightheaded or dizzy. Follow the sit to stand suggestion mentioned above.
How to roll in bed
When rolling from your back to your side or your side to your back, it is important that you do not twist your back. The easiest way to do this is to perform a “log rolling” technique. Essentially, log rolling means that you keep your shoulders and your hips facing the same direction, so that you are not twisting your spine. To roll from your back to your side, it is helpful if you bend both knees up first with your feet flat on your bed. Then use your arms and legs to roll to one side, while keeping your hips and shoulders moving as one unit.
How to brush your teeth
When leaning over to brush your teeth, it is important to make sure you are not rounding your back. Instead, just like when sitting, you should hinge, or bend, at your hips and knees while keeping the spine straight. It can be helpful to think about sticking your butt out behind you as if you are going to sit in a chair. You always want to keep your back straight rather than rounding it as you lean forward.
How to do laundry
When lifting a laundry basket, it is important that you do not round your back. You should lower your body with your hips and knees instead. It is also important to keep the laundry basket as close to your body as possible when lifting and carrying it. This will decrease the load on your spine. It can also be helpful to store your laundry basket on a counter or somewhere close to waist height so you do not have to bend over to lift it.
When putting laundry into and taking laundry out of the washer and dryer, you should not round or twist your back. Instead, bend your hips and knees to reach the laundry. Move your feet to position your body facing the direction you are grabbing and moving the clothes to. This might be a bit more time consuming, but it can prevent twisting your back. In addition, it is important to fold laundry at a comfortable height so that you do not need to bend or twist to reach the laundry you are folding. Counter height is often a good height to avoid rounding or slouching.