Archive for the ‘Safe lifting’ 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.

38678647-quiz-wallpapersProof

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. 

 

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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!

Bad Knees and Lifting Objects

June 6, 2012

“My knees hurt.  It’s hard for me to lift properly…”  Knee issues are very common but there are ways to protect your back AND be kind to your knees when lifting at work or at home!

While teaching over 1 million employees how to prevent back and shoulder injuries we often times have to teach alternative lifting techniques.

The facts of the matter are some people have knee pain or are in some state of de-conditioning and can’t perform textbook biomechanical movements.

Unfortunately if our legs don’t allow us to go to the floor to pick up a box, we end up bending over at the waist and using our backs to lift instead of our legs.

The “proper” way to lift is:

  • Keep your back straight
  • Head up
  • Use your legs to elevate

Keeping your back “straight” maintains your spine’s natural curves and protects your disks and other aspects of your back’s anatomy.  This is accomplished by keeping your head up when lifting.

Supported Lift

Safety Tips For Bad Knees

  • For heavier items, such as a box:  turn it on one of its ends first to raise the box’s center of gravity so you don’t have to stoop as low.  Also, if you are yourself stacking or storing items, put the heavier ones on top so a deep squat will be unnecessary when retrieving it later.

    Golfer’s Lift

  • Lifting something with a handle, such as a suitcase, grocery bags, laundry bag, etc?  Try a supported lift.  Grab the handle and while lifting, support your weight using the other hand on your thigh.
  • Lighter items like a small grocery bag or even a stray sock, you can use a golfer’s lift.

Hopefully these safety tips will help preserve your knees and your back.  Let us know how they work out for you!

Roof Top Exposure

July 16, 2010

Looking out the office window I spied a team of roofers stripping a damaged roof, repairing it and re-shingling.  The sight of 12 men on a steep roof, with very few safety precautions in place gave me heart palpitations—a slight fear of heights revisited perhaps?!

Setting aside the slips/falls risk, I observed several shockingly egregious biomechanical no-nos.   Here you can see the torqueing whilst lifting heavy, bulky packages of roofing materials; bending at the waist, as opposed to lifting correctly…can you spot some additional safety offenses? 

It made me think about the diversity of job tasks and the epidemic of ignorance of proper biomechanics, and by ignorance I mean that people just don’t know!

Each of these roofers is important to someone—as a father, husband, friend, son, brother, co-worker.  When (and it is a near certainty that an injury will occur with the every day strain he places upon himself with poor biomechanics) he becomes injured, each of these people will be adversely affected.  Not to mention the poor injured soul who thinks that the injury occurred because of an isolated action.  He won’t know that it was repeated at-risk motions that gradually wore his body down until it gave in to the damage.  He won’t know that the injury could have been prevented.  And, most unfortunate, he’ll likely return to the same job with the same bad habits and become re-injured.  Thus, the tragic cycle of injury-work comp—re-injury and thus the business owner’s workers’ comp premium skyrockets. 

So, now I’ll step down from my soapbox and talk about solutions…

  1. Stretch muscles before, during and after repeated and/or strenuous activities.  These stretches don’t take much time, they are simple and most importantly, they are effective!
  2. Always Face the Load When Lifting. This mantra reflects the spine’s desire to NOT twist!
  3. Keep the Load Close to Your Body.  Reaching out from your body puts incrementally more and more pressure on your spine—again, it does NOT like this!
  4. Keep Your Head Level While Lifting.  This helps to keep the naturally occurring curves in your spine in the correct position.
  5. Wear some type of safety harness while working on high, unprotected surfaces, like a ROOF!

So, these are the tips that I share with you from these photos.  Have you got some good ones to add to my list?  Let’s hear ‘em!

Summer Time and Correct Lifting

July 6, 2010

It is summertime, a time when outdoor activity increases significantly.  It is the season for barbeques, beaches, yard work, golf and perhaps just settling in a lawn chaise to read a good book.

None of these activities are pleasurable when you have a painful back!  Do you know that most back injuries are caused by physical stress that innocently accumulates over time?   That’s right!  Chances are you were never taught how to do typical daily activities like getting in and out of a car; lifting a cooler into and out of a trunk; lifting kids or laundry; or how to shovel dirt in your garden.  80% of us will have a back incident in our lives due to improper usage of our bodies!  The good news is this means that life altering back pain is preventable

The first thing to know is that you can have control over whether or not you will ever have a back injury by simply learning more about what our backs like and don’t like.  Preventing the little daily innocent stresses that add up to eventually cause you pain is key.  

Here is a suggestion that you can work on.  Do NOT “hinge” at the waist when lifting.  Your lower back does not like when you bend over to lift something.  It can cause significant and continuous pressure on your lumbar spine and disks.  Your “lumbar curve” should be maintained as much as possible when lifting, thus the adage: “use your legs” when lifting.  By planning ahead you can frequently avoid lifting from the ground.  Before loading the cooler, place the empty cooler on a table or raised surface–anything that will help you to avoid bending.  When re-potting plants, don’t do it on the ground, have a table or bench or something that helps you to maintain an upright position.  

Do this simple exercise to help you break the habit of bending over when lifting.  In order for you to recognize the perilous behavior, stand up and bend slightly at the waist.  Remember, this is an at-risk motion so bend minimally so that you can experience the feeling of what you should NOT be doing!  Good!  Now that you know how this feels, you will be more aware when you lift incorrectly so that you can catch yourself and do it more safely. 

Next, place your feet shoulder width apart for good balance and elevate up and down without bending at the waist.  This is the optimum lifting stance.  My guess is that you just realized that you bend at the waist a lot!  This is a main reason why countless lives are ruined by back injuries. 

Use your legs to raise and lower your body, not your back.  Each time you do this you will be strengthening and toning your leg muscles versus weakening and hurting your back. 

Thinking ahead a little and using correct lifting techniques can become a life long habit.  If you need more information or help, we’d be happy to assist!  Good luck!

Take a load off…backpack style!

May 3, 2010

During one of our recent Sittingsafe® ergonomic training sessions an employee told me about her 12-year-old daughter and the backpack that she lugs to and from school everyday.  This particular youngster, according to her mother, was tall for her age and slouched when she walked with her backpack.

The mother weighed the backpack and found it weighed 28 pounds!

The following are rules to live by if you or a loved one uses a backpack:

  • Only carry what you need to minimize the weight.
  • Keep heavier objects on the bottom and equally balanced from side to side.
  • When getting contents in or out of the backpack, place it on a desk or table if possible rather than the floor.  The higher surface will prevent you from stooping.
  • Never twist when putting it on or taking it off.
  • When putting it on, lift it to the top of a desk or table first, then place your arms through the straps.  This lightens the load on your spine and helps prevent twisting.
  • Do not bend at the waist.  We call this “hinging”.  It is not good for your back.  Instead bend your knees and go up and down—think elevator, NOT crane!  Bending at the waist continually while lifting may not cause symptoms when you are young, but can contribute to painful and life altering back injuries when you get older.
  • We suggest doing a brief back extension stretch after taking off a backpack to relieve tired muscles.  Place your hands on your hips, gently push down, pull shoulders backward and raise chest upward while arching back.

 Have you found any other good tips for handling heavy, bulky backpacks? We’d love to hear about them.

What other topics would you like to read about?  We welcome feedback and suggestions.  Thanks!

How to Lift a Child Safely…

April 9, 2010

On a recent visit to the grocery store I saw a mother lifting her young child from the car seat—specifically the middle, back seat.

 My back ached just watching her bend, twist and lift all while being in a compromised position.

 Here is a useful tip to help prevent a back injury while lifting your child from their car seat:

 If your child is old enough to help, invite your child to participate.  Lifting a 2, 3, 4 year old child from the center back seat without the child’s participation calls for the parent to reach while lifting, which is unsafe even with relatively light weight involved.  Try this next time.  When taking the child out of the car, step into the car with one leg, lean your body towards your child and ask him/her to reach and hold onto your neck.  Having the child reach towards you allows you to keep your back straight, your arms close to your body and with your child initiating the motion this helps decrease the amount of force you need to exert to lift your child.  Keep your head up, arms close to your body and never twist.

 An added tip that is very beneficial particularly if you have driven for any length of time: always do a quick back extension when you get out of the car before attempting to lift anything or anyone.  This helps to prepare your body for exertion and feels really good!

 Coming soon…suggestions about children’s backpacks!

 We love feedback!  Please comment, question, suggest future topics…it’s all good!