By Jennifer Morales, MD
While curling is largely a novelty in the U.S. (seems the vast majority of us don’t really understand it), many of us become fascinated by the sport for a few weeks each time the Olympics roll around.
Interestingly, there is a lot to be learned from the sport’s reliance on skill and precision. Curling demonstrates the perfect balance of power and finesse. As with day-to-day life, posture is also incredibly important for curling, not only to maintain proper technique but also to avoid injury.
In curling, the thrower requires a certain athletic ability to maintain balance over the sliding foot. Balance is the key element when delivering the rock (throwing the stone); it allows the thrower to slide more upright. The more upright a thrower is, the straighter the slide becomes. A straight slide will allow for a straight line of delivery, thus enhancing accuracy.
Injuries can occur when balance and biomechanics are off, especially when these motions are done repetitively. Repeated instances of improper posture and mechanics can lead to more pressure and strain placed on the backs, hips or knees, thus leading to injury.
A day in the life
So how does this relate to those of us who will never endeavor be an Olympics curler? It turns out that we can all learn from curlers’ fine attention to posture and proper biomechanics.
For instance, if balance fails while using a ladder or stepstool, a traumatic fall could result in a contusion, concussion or broken bone. Improper posture while lifting a heavy box or moving furniture can lead to a herniated disc, muscle strain or ligament injury. Even such simple daily activities as walking or carrying groceries can lead to long-term damage to our bodies if not done with correct coordination.
Practice makes perfect
While genetics plays a role in predisposing certain people to osteoarthritis, biomechanics also plays a large role. When carrying bags, ask yourself, “Is the weight evenly distributed?” When picking up heavy objects, consider, “Are my knees bent and back straight?”
It is always a good idea to evaluate your actions and posture prior to the activity to prevent injuring yourself. So the next time you go to pick up your child, shovel snow or carry a bag of topsoil, think about how you are going to execute that action and maintain an injury-free body.
A few pointers – biomechanics when bending over or picking things up:
- Always bend at the knees and hips, not at the waist.
- Hold whatever you’re lifting close to your body.
- Use your legs and tighten your abdominal muscles.
- Keep your spine as straight as you can, and don’t twist it.
Jennifer Morales, MD, is an interventional physiatrist with Carolina Spine and Neurosurgery Center, an affiliate of Mission Health.