Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mission 2011: Bend Down, Not Over

I am so excited to get started reporting to you about my Mission 2011.

As I mentioned last week, January is the month that I am focusing on reviewing my progress on making activities fibro-friendly by modifying how I physically approach tasks.

Over the past two weeks I have been more closely observing my body mechanics to see where I need reminders and improvement. The first thing that literally jumped out at me is that I bend over from the waist way too much. Not only is this an example of bad body mechanics, it also potentially sets me up for problems with dizziness and fast heart beats related to dysautonomia and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

I've included a video at the bottom of this post to remind us all of the back-saving way to lift objects. The simple take-away message here is lift like a forklift, not like a crane. To put it another way, bend down from the knee, not over from the waist. Even if the object I am after isn't all that heavy, like a piece of paper or my keys that I dropped on the floor, I need to practice good body mechanics so I don't aggravate my pain or inadvertently pull a muscle.

But since living with fibromyalgia isn't just that simple, I also need to take this advice a little bit further...

  1. I need to remember to use a reaching device like a PikSitk to pick up small to medium size objects off the floor so I don't having to bend over at all.
  2. For tasks like loading or unloading the clothes wash machine and dryer or putting groceries away into the bottom half of the refrigerator, I need to consistently pull out my folding step stool and sit down for the task.
  3. I need to continue to rely on my husband so I can avoid the really heavy lifting.
  4. I need to check and make sure I position myself close to the object I am attempting to pick up, so I don't have to reach far away from my body once I get down there.
  5. I need to not hesitate to hold onto a chair or other object on my way down if my balance is shaky.
Another thing I noticed is that I hold my breath when I bend down. So this week, I have been extra vigilant about making sure I take a deep breath, exhale while bending my knees and then resume normal breathing at the bottom of the movement. Quite surprisingly, this simple "bending meditation" really does make a difference. I feel less taxed and more comfortable when I remember to breath out when I bend down like a forklift.

I encourage you to observe and see if you bend over more than you bend down. Plus try my "bending meditation" and see if it makes a difference the next time you retrieve an item off the floor. Finding the sweet spot is all about saving little bits of energy for healing throughout the day and I'm betting that proper body mechanics is one key way to do this.

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