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Proper Body Mechanics for Nurses

Nursing is a job that needs a lot of bending our backs, flexing our arms and legs and pushing and pulling patients. Because of this, many nurses are at risk for developing physical strain and back injuries or even fractures. One way to prevent these from happening is to practice proper body mechanics.


Body mechanics is a broad term used to denote an effort coordinated by the muscles, bones and nervous system. It can either be good or bad and can be directly related to the occurrence of back pains.


These are different rules that apply when you transfer or move your patients to protect your back:

  • Keep the lower portion of your back in its normal position at all times.
  • Move as close to the patient’s bed as you can.
  • Don’t twist your body. Always do a side step or a pivot.
  • Set your feet into a comfortable and solid wide base of support when lifting.
  • Keep your abdominal muscles contracted, bow slightly using the hips and squat.
  • Keep the head upright and hold your shoulders up.
  • Pushing up from the knees and using your own momentum would help you lift the patient.


What exactly are body mechanics and why are they important? The reason for using proper body mechanics is mainly to avoid:

  • Musculoskeletal strain
  • Injuries to members of the staff
  • Injury to the client
  • Fatigue


Here are the different principles to be a nurse with proper body mechanics:


Stable Center of Gravity

Maintain a stable center of gravity to evenly distribute your body weight

  1. Keep your center of gravity low.
  2. Greater balance is met with a low center of gravity.
  3. Flex your knees and keep your body straight rather than bending.

Wide Base of Support

Maintain a wide base of support

  1. Having a wide base of support gives your body more stability.
  2. Spread your feet apart to a reasonable distance.
  3. Flex your knees to move the center of gravity closer to the base of support.

Proper Body Alignment

Maintain Proper body alignment

  1. Body alignment refers to the way the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles are arranged when initiating a position.
  2. A line of gravity passing through your base of support maintains your balance.
  3. Equal activity balance in upper and lower parts of the body would reduce your risks of having back injury.
  4. When you’re stronger muscle group are involved, greater amount of work can be safely done.
  5. Keep the back upright when performing interventions.

Moving Clients

Here are some guidelines into how to properly move clients and other objects on the work area using proper body mechanics:

  1. Stay close to the subject being pushed.
  2. Place one foot in front of the other
  3. Place the hands on the subject, flex your elbows and lean to the subject.
  4. Place the weight from your flexor to the extensor portions of your leg.
  5. Apply pressure with the use of your leg muscles.
  6. To prevent fatigue, provide alternate rest periods.
  1. Stay close to the subject being pulled.
  2. Place one foot in front of the other
  3. Hold the subject, flex your elbows and lean your body away from the subject.
  4. Shift your weight away from the subject.
  5. Avoid any unnecessary movements.
  6. To prevent fatigue, provide alternate rest periods.
Lifting and Carrying
  1. Be on a squat position facing the subject.
  2. Hold the subject and tighten your center of gravity.
  3. Use your dominant leg muscles when lifting.
  4. Hold the subject at waist height and close to the center of gravity.
  5. Keep your back erect.


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