Archive for the ‘Stretching’ category

Sitting…Getting a “Bum” Rap

October 31, 2017

See what we did there? 😉

Pardon the title pun but recently there was yet another article about the dangers of sitting.  “Sitting Most of the Day May Lead to an Early Grave”  was the headline. This,  on the heels of “Sitting is the New Smoking” and other articles about sitting,  is creating some major concern for those millions of people that predominantly sit for a living.

99373800-1024x537The human body was designed for us Homo Sapiens to survive well at the top of the food chain.  Living things that were mobile tended to have clear advantages over those that weren’t.  Mobility is a key feature of the human blueprint.  In fact, per studies quoted in the article above and more, we are severely penalized if we don’t use this “gift” of mobility.

We live in gravity 24/7 and the goal of gravity is to drive everything, including us to the center of earth.  Not a pleasant thought when you think about it.   However, our bodies are designed to live in gravity.  We NEED gravity to survive.  Resisting gravity is critical to our health.  In fact accelerated aging is being linked to those who don’t or can’t resist gravity.

space-hair-nybergIf we aren’t being mobile, gravity is winning.  A wonderful book about the effects of sitting is “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals” by Joan Vernikos, Ph.D.(NASA).  Her research found similar physical maladies with astronauts who lived in no gravity environments (space) and office workers, whom while sitting are not exerting against gravity.  Apparently the body thrives on motion and the exertion against gravity.

Well what are the millions of people that sit for a living supposed to do with all this doom and gloom around sitting?  Not go to work?  Or stand up all day?  The good news is there are things we can do to counter the effects of sitting.  According to Dr. Vernikos, merely standing up often during your day can counter the effects of sitting.  Move your printer or cell phone away from your desk so that you need to get up to attend to them.  Set an alarm every 20 minutes to stand up.lxpu-1432506798-133948-full

How about this simple very healthy tip-DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!  Not only will you stay hydrated but you will be forced to stand up and walk to the bathroom. Therapeutic indeed!!

And last but not least, who TRAINED you how to sit?  Yes, there are ways to sit properly.  In fact if you don’t sit properly your symptoms can be: neck and shoulder discomfort, low back pain, headaches, wrist and forearm discomfort or pain, eye strain, fatigue and a general feeling of malaise.

Today, millions of people sit in positions that are dictated by where their keyboard lies, where their mouse is located, the position of their monitor and whatever their chair settings are adjusted to.   They are being victims to never before being taught how to sit properly.  So basic, yet so vital.

Sittingsafe® is a new form of office ergonomic training.  You can learn how to positon your body in optimal positions, how to stretch away discomfort and stress and how to maintain your body’s mobility.    We don’t have to be the victims of sitting.  We can sit and be healthy.  You just need to know how!!

Dennis Downing, CEO

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Getting Older Doesn’t Have To Hurt!

October 16, 2017

payments-2Aging is an interesting process.  We get wiser, more confident in who we are, more competent in our chosen line of work and hobbies, and overall settle in to our way of life.

There is also another phenomenon that occurs.  Most people as they age experience an onset of aches and pains.  It isn’t something that just happens overnight.  It happens via an insidious gradient, little by little until one day it registers as discomfort or pain.

Then with life going 100 miles per hour, we ignore this non-optimum condition with hopes of it disappearing, or simply acquiescing and justify it by assuming it is just “aging”.

Let me pose this question:  Do you feel discomfort or pain on your body?  Many readers will answer “yes” to this question.  After your “personal pain audit” you may have discovered something not optimum in your low back, neck and shoulders, dull head ache, wrist or forearms.plumber-with-back-pain_1368-544

I have asked people “Why do you put up with this discomfort?”  Many answer “I guess it is just me aging” and most don’t know it is possible to get rid of it.

I can go on a major rant right now on how poorly served we are by a society that has never taught us how to manage our own pain and discomfort, instead directing us to see prescriptions and surgeons.  But I will refrain!

The cycle of a typical sprain/strain injury event is fatigue (a muscle or joint tiring from sustained postures, repetitive stress, etc.), discomfort, pain and then if unattended to, the injury.

We have been dedicated, for 25 years, to teaching employees and management how to self manage their own health.  It is so simple to do!  Cumulative micro-trauma is the cause of most sprain/strains. The discomfort that you earlier detected on your body is stored micro trauma.

For most of us, all we have to do are 3 things to alleviate it or even permanently get rid of it.

Isolate the cause—what postures or repetitive activity is the primary cause.

Change the physical behaviors that are causing it (lifting, pushing, pulling incorrectly, sitting incorrectly, keyboard, mouse, monitor in incorrect positions, etc.)

Relieve aches and pains with the correct stretches using the correct technique in the correct order.

We have discovered that much musculoskeletal discomfort and pain is preventable.  Backsafe® is our training workshops that teaches employees in just 2 hours how to do physical work on and off the job and teaches simple yet powerful stretches that rid the body of that pent up discomfort creeping in on their lifestyles.  This pent up discomfort left unattended can accumulate to a point that causes the $50,000 claim and lost work time.  Finally a workable solution to back and shoulder claims, right!!

Sittingsafe® is our office ergonomic training program that teaches people how to sit correctly and how to adjust their existing workstations so not to cause pain and discomfort; and the Sittingsafe stretches are almost too good to be true!  Headaches, neck and shoulder pain, low back pain have disappeared by just knowing what stretch to do to relieve it, combined with correcting the exacerbating sitting and working positions.

draft_lens17603987module148010435photo_1296861127No-medicationIn summary, aging doesn’t have to be accompanied by pain and discomfort.  We don’t need pain medications to live our lives.  The body is a miraculous contrivance.  It heals well if given the chance.

We teach people what we all should have learned years ago—How to self manage musculoskeletal discomfort; how to prevent painful injuries; and how to stay away from pain medications and unnecessary surgeries.

Contact us (800.775.225) to discuss how we can help put your employees more in charge of their own health.  It is a win-win.  Employees not in pain and windfall savings for the company.

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.

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!

What Muscles Wish You Knew About Reversing Years of Damage

May 9, 2016

woman-stretching-2Athletes stretch for top performance in their sports. This type of stretching is dynamic, meaning everything moves – the arms, legs, back and head. Athletes doing dynamic stretching move through the different stretches, but don’t hold them for more than a few seconds.

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Employees stretch to turn back time. This reverses the slow, steady damage done to muscles when they aren’t used properly.

“On the job, top speed is not so important, so static stretching is more helpful here,” says Dr. Rob Handelman, D.C. “It can maintain a person’s flexibility of the low back, shoulders, hands, arms, legs, ankles, and neck, which is lost over time due to repetitive motions and sustained postures.”

Dr. Handelman co-created the Backsafe® training program to improve employee well-being at work and at home by incorporating simple exercises to be done before and throughout the workday. The workplace can be a kitchen, a warehouse, plant, truck, car, office, hospital or an airplane.

The idea behind on-the-job static stretching is to reverse the position you’re in most of the day. Prolonged postures and repetitive activities (gripping, leaning forward, looking down much of the day) cause muscles or groups of muscles to shorten and deprive them of their normal full range of motion. They become tight, weakened and thus easier to injure.

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to get injured, just that you’re more vulnerable,” according to Dr. Handelman.

ladder_safety_falling_accidentThis result, from cumulative use and prolonged postures, happens over time, and differs from a single acute trauma event, such as falling from a height or a sudden impact.

Static stretches are of greatest use to workers since it is common in many occupations to have loss of flexibility in the hands, back, legs, and upper chest and shoulders.

When asked which job descriptions are at the greatest risk of developing short, tight, more easily injured muscles and joints, Dr. Handelman answered without hesitation, “Everybody that repeats movements often or maintains postures for a long time.”

“Since often they can’t change the job, what they can do is to return the muscles to their normal range of motion with stretching. They can permanently maintain a normal range of motion by doing static stretches and warmups before starting their job activity, and after a considerable number of job activities throughout the day.”

12-Surprising-Things-a-Flight-Attendant-Cant-Do-for-You-So-Stop-AskingFor example, upper extremity tightness and discomfort are common in flight attendants and manufacturing from using their hands often and while looking downward. Mechanics use tools constantly and can develop grip problems. Office personnel can experience over 250,000 muscle contractions just working at a computer on any given day.

Over time, the body believes the length of the muscles should be the current shortened position. What happens is the tight muscles lose strength and are weaker because they can’t contract or relax fully anymore, and on top of that are now more susceptible to injury.

“One should be able to straighten your elbows completely when placing your hands together behind your back. A worker who performs continuous lifting motions at work, where they lift but don’t straighten the arms, will cause the arm and chest muscles to shorten over time,” Dr. Handelman says.

By doing hand, wrist, chest and shoulder stretches, a worker can help to return the upper extremities to a full and more normal range of motion, thus less prone to experience a future painful injury.

There is some controversy about stretching and whether it should be dynamic or static, Dr. Handelman reveals. As noted above, dynamic stretching involves full body movement, using the legs and arms. Static stretching is when you stretch and hold.

“Since we are most often working with maintaining and returning joints and muscles to their normal full range of motion, static is the kind of on-the-job stretching we mostly teach in our  Backsafe® and Sittingsafe® Injury Prevention Programs.  That means stretching a muscle or group of muscles to their farthest point of motion without pain, and then holding it for 5 to 30 seconds,” he explains.

lab-tech-300x199.jpgHe recommends the Backsafe stretches for all job descriptions outside of those that require a sitting position while working. The Sittingsafe stretches are designed specifically for those that mainly sit while working including executives, office workers, laboratory, and dispatch personnel.

Static stretching can reverse any effects of cumulative, repetitive positions or motions done over and over at work, Handelman says.

“You want to  prevent tightness in your body, you want to maintain your mobility,  you want to protect your quality of life so you can do more things and have less chance of pain now and especially as we age.”

Interested in learning more about how you can use this information in your company?  Contact Dennis Downing, CEO of Future Industrial Technologies (FIT) about Backsafe & Sittingsafe workshops that can be delivered in your facility! 1-800-775-2225

(Rob McCarthy is a freelance writer and contributor to the Backsafe® newsletter.)

Microbreaks are Good for Mind & Body

April 14, 2016

Chances are you’re seated right now, hunched over a keyboard. hunched-over-keyboardIf you’ve spent most or all of your workday in this position, you are a candidate for fatigue and soreness starting at the neck and working down the back. Those are the postural muscles, and you should listen to them.

Postural muscles are responsible for maintaining an upright posture. These muscles tend to become tight rather easily, which can lead to pain. You can probably feel the postural muscles working as you read this. They are doing the heavy lifting of the head, the neck and the spine.

What those muscles need are frequent breaks. Not 15-minute ones, but a 1-2 minute microbreak to protect the body against the dangers of hours of constant sitting. Microbreaking done correctly can reduce strain on the neck, shoulders and spine. Correctly means taking microbreaks throughout the day, along with mandated 15-minute rest periods and a meal break.

Chair-bound employees don’t need to leave their desks to take one. A microbreak lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, and is meant to be taken as often as every 10 minutes. Microbreaks can reduce muscle fatigue by up to 50 percent in an eight-hour day, experts think.

Because of technology and automation, employees tend to overdo a single task. That can be typing on a keyboard, answering the phone, opening and sorting mail, or handling packages. neck-shoulderrestThey get on a roll, some call it “in the zone,” and their concentration is extremely high. A microbreak serves as a reminder not to stay seated or standing in one position for too long.

Try this now: Let your arms hang by your sides and gently shake your hands. Hold this position for 25-30 seconds. Breathing deeply and exhaling three or four times while your arms hang is a good relaxation technique to pair with this microbreak exercise. Our Sittingsafe® chart offers 13 exercises and recommendations for lowering fatigue and stress and feeling more energetic.

Stanford University researchers in the Environmental Health and Safety Department, who’ve studied the effects of prolonged sitting, have a message for those who spend their days chair-bound. The human body is always active when engaged in work tasks, even when seated. Frequent breaks can decrease the duration of a task and help lower the exposure to ergonomic injury risk, they advise.

Stanford’s ergonomic-wellness work led to a recommendation that employees make microbreaks a part of their workday. The Stanford team offered some ways how:
• Move the printer to another room, if possible, or away from the desk. This requires you to stand and walk over to the printer to get a printout.
• Stand when talking on the phone. A stand-up desk comes in handy for this task.
• Walk to the restroom or get a glass of water every hour. lxpu-1432506798-133948-full• Break up continuous computer time by checking phone messages and reading reports.
Microbreaks are preventative, not a cure for existing back and neck injuries. Paul Hooper, DC, writing in “Dynamic Chiropratic” noted that many conditions have multiple causes and multiple solutions. “It would appear that the use of microbreaks is one such part of the puzzle,” he said.

Other research on energy management at work shows that listening to music on a micro-break boosts energy levels and wards off fatigue, too. Stretching at the desk, walking to the water fountain, or listening to a music jam (on low volume, of course!), they all make a difference in how employees feel at their jobs and about their workplaces.

Make time in the day for microbreaks, and your body and mind will do the rest.

The Sittingsafe® card offers a variety of exercises and stretches that can be done right at the desk. The illustrated card explains 13 exercises to curb muscle and eye strain. The card is available from Backsafe for $1.25. Order by calling 1-800-775-2225 or online at www.backsafe.com.

Backsafe® Driving or Are We There Yet?

April 26, 2012

Summer is just around the corner and of course that means many families are planning vacations.  Vacations often involve road trips—traveling longer distances than usual.  Add in some extra summer activities and a stressed out and painful back can result!

Here are a few tips to consider when spending a lot of time in your vehicle:

  • Any sustained posture for long periods of time isn’t ideal for your body.  Changing your seat position from time to time can help prevent irritating discomfort.
  • At least every 2 hours get out of your car and move around a little to help get your blood flowing and to relieve stress from being in a sustained sitting posture.
  • When getting out of the car, do not twist especially while bent at the waist.
  • Immediately after getting out of your car, do the following simple stretches:

Back extensions: these reverse the sitting posture, thus relieving stress.

Chest extension:  When driving your arms are holding on to the steering wheel.  The chest extension is the reverse posture to this and can give you much relief–and even help you to breathe more deeply.

Hamstring stretch: When we sit, our hamstrings shorten.  Tight hamstrings can affect our backs.  Stand approximately 3 feet from your car with your legs straight–shoulder width apart.  With your hands on the car for support, bend forward at the waist with your head level, looking straight ahead.  This will help your hamstrings return to normal length and help protect your back.

Take advantage of those ubiquitous rest areas to let the kids out and run off some pent-up energy.  Let the children join in on the stretches.  Each family member could even take a turn leading the stretch session!  You will all arrive at your destination with less stress, more energy and family vacation experiences already underway!

Need a handy laminated reminder card of these stretches plus a few others?  It even folds up to a convenient wallet size!  F.I.T. has them in stock!  Check out the Backsafe® website for more info.