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Lesson 4: Body Mechanics

SECTION I. Techniques of Body Mechanics


Some of the most common injuries sustained by members of the health care team are severe musculoskeletal strains. Many injuries can be avoided by the conscious use of proper body mechanics when performing physical labor.


Body mechanics is the utilization of correct muscles to complete a task safely and efficiently, without undue strain on any muscle or joint.


Maintain a Stable Center of Gravity.

  1. Keep your center of gravity low.

  2. Keep your back straight.

  3. Bend at the knees and hips.

Maintain a Wide Base of Support. This will provide you with maximum stability while lifting.

  1. Keep your feet apart.

  2. Place one foot slightly ahead of the other.

  3. Flex your knees to absorb jolts.

  4. Turn with your feet.

Maintain the Line of Gravity. The line should pass vertically through the base of support.

  1. Keep your back straight.

  2. Keep the object being lifted close to your body.

Maintain Proper Body Alignment.

  1. Tuck in your buttocks.

  2. Pull your abdomen in and up.

  3. Keep your back flat.

  4. Keep your head up.

  5. Keep your chin in.

  6. Keep your weight forward and supported on the outside of your feet.



  1. Use the stronger leg muscles for lifting.

  2. Bend at the knees and hips; keep your back straight.

  3. Lift straight upward, in one smooth motion.


  1. Stand directly in front of and close to the object.

  2. Avoid twisting or stretching.

  3. Use a stool or ladder for high objects.

  4. Maintain a good balance and a firm base of support.

  5. Before moving the object, be sure that it is not too large or too heavy.


  1. Place one foot slightly ahead of the other.

  2. Turn both feet at the same time, pivoting on the heel of one foot and the toe of the other.

  3. Maintain a good center of gravity while holding or carrying the object.

Avoid Stooping.

  1. Squat (bending at the hips and knees).

  2. Avoid stooping (bending at the waist).

  3. Use your leg muscles to return to an upright position.


  1. It is easier to pull, push, or roll an object than it is to lift it.

  2. Movements should be smooth and coordinated rather than jerky.

  3. Less energy or force is required to keep an object moving than it is to start and stop it.

  4. Use the arm and leg muscles as much as possible, the back muscles as little as possible.

  5. Keep the work as close as possible to your body. It puts less of a strain on your back, legs, and arms.

  6. Rock backward or forward on your feet to use your body weight as a pushing or pulling force.

  7. Keep the work at a comfortable height to avoid excessive bending at the waist.

  8. Keep your body in good physical condition to reduce the chance of injury.


Use proper body mechanics in order to avoid the following:

  1. Excessive fatigue.

  2. Muscle strains or tears.

  3. Skeletal injuries.

  4. Injury to the patient.

  5. Injury to assisting staff members.


The following paragraph takes you through the process of moving (lifting, pivoting, squatting, and carrying) a heavy object. (The same rules would apply to moving a patient.) The object will be moved from a waist high area to a lower area five to ten feet away. The procedure will combine all the rules of body mechanics previously discussed.

Identify the object to be moved.

Adopt a stable base of support.

  1. Your feet are separated.

  2. One foot is behind the other.

  3. Your back is straight.

Grasp the object at its approximate center of gravity.

Pull the object toward your body's center of gravity using your arm and leg muscles.

Re-establish your base of support and appropriate body alignment.

  1. Your back is straight.

  2. You have a stable base of support.

  3. You are holding the object approximately at waist height and close to your body.

Pivot toward the desired direction of travel.

  1. Turn on both feet at the same time.

  2. Maintain a stable balance.

Re-establish a stable base of support and appropriate body alignment.

  1. Your back is straight.

  2. Your feet are apart, one slightly behind the other.

  3. The object is at hip level, close to your body.

Squat and place the object onto the lower area.

  1. Bend at the knees and hips.

  2. Maintain a straight back.

  3. Maintain a stable base of support.

  4. Use your arm and leg muscles (as needed) for guidance.

  5. Use your leg muscles to resume an upright position.

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Define and identify principles of good body mechanics.

Identify techniques of body mechanics used when performing work.

Name the eight general considerations for performing physical tasks.

Identify reasons for using good body mechanics.

Identify reasons for changing the position of a patient.

Identify basic principles for positioning and turning patients.

Identify techniques for maintaining proper body alignment of the patient lying on his/her back.

Identify descriptions of positions used when positioning a patient.

Identify steps used to adjust the backrest and pillows of a patient in a gatch bed.

Identify actions, which can be taken by a nurse to alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation of a patient.

Select rationales for getting a patient out of bed.

Identify principles for assisting patients out of bed.

Identify steps used in preparing to ambulate a patient and stages of ambulation.

Identify actions, which should be taken if a patient begins to fall.