Archive for the ‘Backsafe’ category

Back Pain is NOT a Normal Condition!

June 27, 2017

back-painI recently read an article that claimed that back pain is a normal human condition!  Although it is true that 80% of the US population will suffer from back pain in their lives, it does not mean it is a “normal human condition”.

It would be like saying illiteracy in the 1800’s was a “normal human condition”.  Granted it was “normal” to be uneducated at the time, but to brand that condition a “normal human condition” would have been a major mischaracterization as in 2003 in many parts of the world the literacy rate was over 90% (99% in the US). (Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2016) – ‘Literacy’. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/literacy/ [Online Resource])

Is it then possible to theorize that one can educate oneself on how to prevent back pain from ever occurring in the first place?  Is our society  functionally illiterate regarding the spine, one of the most important parts of our bodies?

Back Basics

25 years ago FIT was established to prevent back and shoulder injuries (and since then, office ergonomic injuries too).  Our first discovery was that most back injuries are caused by what we call CMT (cumulative micro trauma).  CMT is an accumulation of tiny physical transgressions on our bodies that over time add up to fatigue, discomfort, pain and if continued, injury.

Secondly, we discovered shockingly, that as a culture we are virtually 100% illiterate as to the structure and practical function of our spines.  This lack of understanding leads to a life of accumulating unnecessary CMT!

80% of the US population will experience back pain.  A back injury can, in a brief moment, change one’s life or cause one to be on potentially addictive pain medication.  Yet despite this horrific “natural human condition” no one has educated us (properly!) on how to perform normal activities of daily living in a way that would prevent CMT and its painful manifestations.

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How many cylinders do you have in your car?  4, 6 or 8?  70% of you or so will know that answer.  How many bones (vertebrae) make up your spine?  I will wait while you google this, because, like me years ago, I had NO IDEA!  Why are there curves in your spine?  How many curves?  We know more about our darn cars and trucks than we do our backs and we can replace our vehicles!  Don’t feel bad, virtually 100% of us are functionally illiterate relating to our back and how to use it properly.

The spine is an engineering feat!  You have to really work hard to “earn” a back injury.  You have 24 bones:  7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (hump in your mid back); and 5 lumbar (base of spine)…and 3 curves.

After “practically educating” over one million employees about the very simple laws of lifting and living in a world with a 24/7 gravitational force, we can 100% pronounce that when people become educated why and on how to lift, bend, work, care for their children, mow the lawn, shovel snow, do laundry, work on a computer, in other words “live life”, injuries plummet.

We trained 20,000 flight attendants for an airline on how to do their work and life duties and how to properly stretch away CMT, and back and neck injuries dropped 63%!

SAMPLE TIP

171092762-300x200Our Backsafe® on-site workshops experientially educate workers on how to NOT become a victim of back and shoulder pain.  One of our Backsafe laws to prevent CMT is never reach for or with a load.  Holding a box, baby, or bundle close to you significantly reduces “intradiscal” pressure on your spine.  A 10 pound object held 10” away from you becomes a virtual weight of 100 pounds on your spine.

Do this exercise:  Stand up.  Hold your arms out in front of you for a few seconds or until you feel a little fatigue.  This is 12% of your body weight.  Now relax your arms to a normal position and feel the relief.  The relief you feel is your body thanking you for keeping your arms close to your body.

Now make believe you have a box or laundry basket in your hands and you want to set it down on a desk or table.  Move close to the table whereby you can set the “load” down without reaching.  How pathetically simple!  Yet, extremely beneficial to know and apply to your life.

FIT wants to increase employees’ physical literacy as pertains to musculoskeletal well-being.  The beautiful part about our process is no matter an organization’s morale, employees are eager to know how to relieve pain and discomfort and willingly buy-in to change their behaviors on and off the job.

Email or call us at (800) 775.2225 and schedule an interview to learn how we can help your employees and help your company to prevent painful injuries and to save money in 2017.

Sincerely,

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc. 

 

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive…Part Deux

June 10, 2017

Young-Man-with-Back-PainOur last edition defined CMT (Cumulative Micro Trauma) the cause of most physical discomfort attendant to sitting and working on a computer.  You may feel CMT on your body as fatigue, discomfort, or pain.  The pandemic existence of CMT among office workers around the world affects moods, joint function, production and well-being.

Employers, not aware of CMT as the source of employee “ergonomic” complaints, are compelled to purchase new ergonomic furniture, equipment and gadgets that in many cases, don’t completely solve the employee’s condition.

The basic fundamental of problem solving is to determine the exact cause, as eliminating the exact cause of any problem eliminates the problem.

smartphone_computer_desk-587ff5f73df78c2ccd054726A prevalent issue with most office workers or executives in today’s high tech world is CMT, as a result of computer and cell phone related repetitive activities.  The solution is to prevent CMT.  Most offices are already equipped with furniture that can be adjusted adequately to position 95% of human beings properly.  Yet close to 100% (actual fact) of the people that work in offices sit and work at their computer incorrectly!!

FIT’s Sittingsafe® program teaches the “Laws of Sitting” which are almost completely unknown by our society.  Not knowing these very simple laws predisposes us to CMT and the gamut of physical symptoms.

Our first edition described maintaining “open angles”.  I trust that has been helpful.  Today I want to mention “neutral head posture”.  Your monitor’s position—height and distance from your eyes—dictates the position of your head.  If you are experiencing neck and shoulder pain, this will help (as will the next edition…stay tuned!). Your head weighs 10-12 pounds when you maintain a neutral posture; that is, when your head is in its natural position while looking straight ahead in a relaxed state.

bad-posture-urgent-careHowever, your 12 pound head can have the effect of weighing over 30 pounds (!) when you slouch and “turtle” your head out towards your monitor while looking at your screen.  This is called “forward head posture” and is very insidious. Many people as a result of this chronic posture, have their heads and neck fixed in this position permanently causing continual stress on their neck and shoulders.

Not only does “forward head posture” cause neck and shoulder discomfort but it also reduces your oxygen intake.

Check this out:

Sit up straight with your head in neutral posture and while noticing your air intake, take 2 nice deep breaths.

Now jut your chin out as if looking at your monitor incorrectly  (forward head posture) and try taking 2 deep breaths—you can’t do it, right?!

“Forward head posture” contributes to neck and shoulder pain and discomfort, headaches, and your ability to breath normally.

SOLUTION to prevent “forward head posture”:  Move your monitor closer to you or increase the font size to prevent the urge to be closer to your monitor.

FIT offers on-site group Sittingsafe workshops anywhere in the country.  We teach people how to set up their existing workstations and a very powerful stretching routine specific for office workers.

We also conduct one-on-one ergonomic evaluations.

Visit our website at www.backsafe.com for more information on Sittingsafe and our industrial lifting program Backsafe®.

Until next time, remember Open Angles and Neutral Head Posture!  You’ll feel better, I promise!

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive

May 22, 2017

OFFICE-WORKER-SLOUCHINGWe have all heard about the studies on sitting and how it can negatively impact our health.  It has been proven that sitting for extended periods of time is not good for us.

Office personnel, especially executives, spend a lot of time sitting and looking at a computer.  This sustained posture can cause neck and shoulder discomfort, headaches, low back pain, a sort of malaise, and shall I say it??? a feeling of “I’m getting old”!

Executives, many times, are too busy to even acknowledge the onset of chronic discomfort until lifestyles are affected.

25 years ago we discovered that the “laws of sitting” are not being taught.  This lack of education was exposed when our society became dependent on computers, allowing access to the world while seated in an office or home.

The exposure of this lack of knowledge manifested via fatigue, discomfort, pain and for some, even injury.  ATTEMPTED solutions have included ergonomic chairs, keyboards, sit-stand desks, treadmills with keyboards, etc.  Ergonomic solutions are certainly important, but my gosh, they can become quite expensive.  Moreover, how frustrating it is to the person with wrist, back or neck pain when the $800 chair doesn’t quite eliminate the problem.

Knowledge is power as the saying goes.  There are simple laws of how to sit.  Violation of these laws cause accelerated “micro trauma”. The accumulation of insidious micro trauma is called Cumulative Micro Trauma (CMT) which is the cause of the symptoms mentioned above.

If you assess your body right now, we know that in one or several areas you will feel your own CMT.  The good news is once we know the true source of a problem, the problem can be solved.

The laws of sitting, once known, puts people in charge of how they feel.  What we can do is learn how to sit properly, learn how to set up our chairs, monitors, keyboards, and yes, get rid of CMT by doing certain stretches designed specifically for executives and office support personnel.

I will share some of the laws that we teach in our Sittingsafe® workshops across North America over the next few newsletters.

Here is our first Sittingsafe tip:

blood-vessels-sem-1ykwp1oYour body has 62,500 miles of blood vessels (amazing fact!).  Blood provides oxygen, nutrition and takes away waste.  A law of sitting is to prevent closed angles.  Your ankles, knees, hips and elbows should be positioned at 90 degrees or slightly more to assist blood flow.  Key factors to open angles are the height of your chair and position of your keyboard, mouse and monitor.  Do not let your computer and office furniture dictate your body’s positions.  Adjust your chair so that your knees are slightly below your hips, for most of the day make sure your feet aren’t tucked under your chair (closes ankle and knee angles!)

When typing, your hands should be on the keyboard at the same height or slightly below your elbow (keyboard trays are needed by most people) and the same is true for the mouse.

We will continue these tips in our next newsletter.

Please keep in mind that it is quite simple to alleviate most discomfort caused by sitting.  You just need to know the laws of sitting contained in our Sittingsafe program!

FIT has trainers available across the US and Canada to conduct on-site Sittingsafe workshops for office and executive personnel.  We don’t sell furniture or ergonomic equipment.  We teach people what society forgot to teach us.  Knowledge is power!  Especially if it makes us feel good!

Contact us for more information on our Sittingsafe program (800.775.2225)

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

Luck vs. Prepared

March 27, 2017

four-leaf-cloverLuck, A Poor Workers’ Comp Strategy

I have been in the workplace injury prevention business now for over 25 years.  I wish I had a $10 bill for every time I heard “we are lucky so far, injuries are way down”, or “we’ve had some bad luck lately, our injuries are up”, or something to that effect.

Luck appears to have a lot to do with back injuries in particular.  I spoke to a nurse not too long ago and after discussing a spate of back injuries to her colleagues she said “I guess I am just lucky.”

It’s certainly nice to have luck on our side, but unfortunately it is not always dependable.  In business and in life, the less control we have over something the more we have to rely on luck; not exactly a highly successful strategy!

Control is a word that is sometimes maligned, however, it is a huge key to our success, health and happiness.  The more control we have over aspects of our lives, the more successful we are.  Whether it be a bicycle, car, computer, job, finances, or our minds, optimal control makes life more fun and rewarding.

When we were creating the Backsafe® Injury Prevention Programs, we had to understand the exact cause of back injuries to offer reliable and consistent solutions.  We couldn’t sell four leaf clovers for very long and get away with it!

We discovered that when people learned the actual cause of back, shoulder and other sprain/strain types of injuries; and learned how to prevent them as it applied to their lives, back injuries went way down and in some companies almost ceased!

We rely on luck significantly more so when we can’t control well.  4da72e5455df7cfd9c13d6086ff441c9The Vegas slot machine is virtually all luck because of a total lack of control of those spinning dials.

Your employees can control their health better.  They just need to become aware of how to do that.  The more your employees control their own well-being, the more you are controlling your workers’ comp costs, productivity and lost time.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Everything in nature goes by law, and not by luck”.

The spine (shoulders, wrists, neck too) operates on its own laws, and when one knows them it should last a lifetime…no luck needed!

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc. 

 

I’m So Tired of Standing!

December 21, 2016

line12During this busy season, it’s impossible to avoid standing still for long periods of time…

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Consider waiting in line at the post office…

Standing in the kitchen creating confectionary delights…

Wrapping gifts for hours on end…

Standing ovations at your children/grandchildren/student/neighbor concerts…

Placing decorations thoughtfully…

I’m certain you could add to this list from your own traditions as well.

Despite the joy and happiness the season brings, standing still for long periods of time is a form of Repetitive Stress and can contribute to low back pain and fatigue.

Hamstrings can tighten, which can also lead to back pain.

Here are some useful tips to keep you feeling great this holiday season:

  • It is no accident that bars install standing foot rails to keep their patrons comfortable.  Raising one foot can relieve stress and prevent fatigue.  Open a cabinet door and use the cupboard as a footrest while doing dishes or even brushing your teeth.hamstring-stretch-revised-11-20-13
  • Shift your feet from a normal width when standing to a wider stance from time to time, particularly if you are working on a lower surface.
  • Alternate staggering your feet.
  • Do a back extension stretch and a hamstring stretch from time to time, especially when standing on tile or other hard surfaces.

These are a small part of our Backsafe® Injury Prevention program  which many companies find so very helpful for preventing sprain/strain injuries for their employees.

Here’s to a healthy, peaceful and happy holiday season to you and those you love.

Turkey Safety…or How To Lift The Bird

November 16, 2016

61892990b3d8652402fc02630ee961ea.jpgThanksgiving is right around the corner and likely most of you have already begun to plan an epic feast!  Turkey is of course, the classic menu as we hunker down to the table.

However, before we slip into our elastic waisted pants and tryptophan coma, let’s consider some safety tips—just for turkey.  Safety tips for turkey?  Really?

Yes!  There are some well documented dangers associated with our beloved bird…

Who could forget infamous Les Nessman and the WKRP turkey drop—“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”  (watch here). or Joey from Friends getting the turkey stuck on his head (watch here).

images-2Dangers abound with inexperienced chefs trying to deep fry turkeys—so many frightening You Tube videos on this one…

But from an ergonomic viewpoint, there are some musculoskeletal concerns that come with lifting heavy birds in and out of the oven, and to the table.

So in preparation for the big day, here are some lifting tips to avoid injury…

A 14 pound turkey held close to our bodies is 14 pounds of pressure on our spines.  BUT did you know if we reach out only 10 inches holding that same 14 pound bird it translates now to 140 pounds of pressure on our backs????

A Backsafe® rule that we teach is Keep the Load Close!  When handling hot or wet items when it is impossible to hold it next to your body, you can hold them close by locking your elbows in by your side, to provide stability and to keep the load as close as possible.  When setting down or putting in the oven, get as close to the target landing area as possible and then put the front edge onto the table or rack, and then slide in to the desired position.  Reverse this motion when lifting from the table or oven.

Remember, the cause of most back and shoulder injuries is insidious “cumulative micro-trauma”.   Keeping the Load Close is a wonderful way to help prevent the buildup of micro-trauma that can contribute to making us feel older and less flexible.  And who knows, this one little tip may help you to prevent what could be a life altering injury someday!

We all have a lot to be thankful for!  Let’s keep it that way!

Happy Thanksgiving from FIT!

Tech Neck…Yes, It’s a Thing

October 2, 2016

police-release-shocking-video-to-reduce-mobile-phone-distraction-deathsWe’ve all seen them, pedestrians stooped forward over the ubiquitous mobile device…seemingly oblivious to traffic, other pedestrians and potholes.  Heck, we might have even been one of “those people” ourselves!  Tech Neck sufferers are everywhere!

Our obsessive attachment to these devices comes with a myriad of issues of course, but let’s discuss the physical/anatomical costs of this love affair.

Consider neutral posture—head up, shoulders squared, arms at ease—would fully support your 10-12 pound head.  Lean forward, shoulders hunched, clutching a phone and now you’re looking at much more relative weight being supported by your spine…up to 60 pounds in fact!

prescription-computer-glassesAdd in the fact that many of us wear corrective glasses that cause us to further distort our neck to find the right spot to actually be able to read that tiny print…and you can imagine, it’s a constant burden our spines were just not designed to manage.

So now that we’ve established what we all see and experience daily, the bigger discussion should be:  what can be done about it?

As a leader in the Injury Prevention business for 20+ years, FIT has a couple of great, practical suggestions.

  1. From time to time raise your cell phone so you are reading with your head in a more level position.  Use those biceps you’ve been working on at the gym to lift that tiny device closer to your face, rather than subjecting your poor overused spine to dangle that heavy head!
  2. Try out some neck stretches to reverse the accumulated micro trauma—because that prolonged posture really is causing trauma to your shoulders and neck.  FIT’s Backsafe® and Sittingsafe® stretches are easy to do and have proven very effective.  You can check them out on the website:  www.backsafe.com  The Cross Shoulder Pull, Shoulder Rolls, and the Chin Tuck are especially therapeutic. If you really like them, you can even order your own laminated card by calling FIT at 800.775.2225.

It seems evident that technology isn’t going away, so let’s make sure that we do our best to stay healthy and fit in our plugged in world.  Tech Neck doesn’t have to be a thing after all!