Working on cars can be very difficult for the body. You may need to place yourself in awkward positions to get to areas that require your attention. While many positions and tasks are straining, some can place excessive strain on your body and should be limited.
Working under cars is especially difficult due to strain on your neck as well as shoulders when you reach. When working under cars with a creeper, it is best to use a creeper with an adjustable headrest in order to avoid excess strain on your neck. As new areas under a car need to be addressed, move yourself under the car instead of straining to reach. Reaching above while lying down under a car can place increased stress on your neck, back, and shoulders.
When working over the front engine compartment of a car, you may need to lean to reach. Even while this may be the case, make sure your body is positioned as close to the area you are working on as possible. This may require that you move frequently to the sides, but keeping the area you are working on close helps prevent leaning and decrease strain on your neck and back. If the front of the car is raised or lifted higher, take the time to use a step stool to bring the front of the car to a comfortable height. Magnetic tools that hold screws and bolts can make it easier to work on hard to reach areas, reducing stress and strain on your body.
Car lifts make it much easier to work under cars, however, you still need to look up under the car lift. Take frequent stretch breaks and avoid looking up or reaching above for prolonged periods. When reaching above, try to avoid hiking up your shoulders. Avoid fully extending your neck to look up helps to keep strain manageable.
Abdominal bracing is an exercise we discussed previously that can help to stabilize the joints of your back. When you perform abdominal bracing, contraction of your core muscles increases pressure in your abdomen, helping to stabilize your spine and prevent unguarded movements when stress is applied, such as when leaning, bending, or lifting heavy items.
Whether working on cars over the weekend or as a full-time mechanic, car work can be very straining on the body. Contact a Chiropractor if you have symptoms such as pain or tightness from this type of work injury.