Archive for the ‘Stretching’ category

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…

200468703-001.jpg

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.

1dc1eff804efbbcc_7348-w233-h233-b1-p10--rustic-wall-clocks

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.

It’s SPRINGtime! Get out to the garden…safely!

April 11, 2012

It is that time of year when the veil of winter gives way to sunshine and the growing season.

Digging, wheel barrowing, lifting bags of soil amendments, etc., even for the well conditioned athlete, can if not done correctly, cause back pain and injury.

 

 

Tips for shoveling:

Have the right tools

Digging with a proper shovel can make a big difference.  Make sure you use a shovel that is light and has a long handle so you can shovel in a more upright position.  Remember, not only are you lifting the dirt, but you have the weight of the shovel and yes, even your arms that contribute to the resulting force on your spine.

Know your spine

You have 3 curves in your spine.  When shoveling try to maintain those curves, in other words, keep your back as straight as you can.  Bending at the waist while lifting a shovel full of soil puts undue pressure on your low back.  A trick to help you is when lifting, keep your head up.  You don’t have to look at the sky, just keep your head in a neutral or straight forward posture.  This will help keep your back straight and make you use your bigger and more powerful leg muscles more.  Lastly, never twist when shoveling.  Always aim your “drop” zone at either the 10 or 2 o’clock position.  Never shovel to your side (9 or 3 o’clock position) or behind you.

Working around the yard can be invigorating and even good for your muscles if you do it correctly.  In fact, when done correctly can be a good physical activity.

After You’re Done…

A thorough stretch can’t be understated in terms of benefits!  You’ve worked your body hard, it likes a moment to regroup!  Take a moment to survey the effects you’ve just created, take some deep breaths and stretch those muscles to help avoid soreness the next day.

Wrist Pain? Some solutions are at hand!

July 23, 2010

Custodial/janitorial personnel experience a lot of material handling and repetitive activities daily.  Recently we encountered a hospital janitor who was about to file an injury claim because of a painful wrist.  He attended our Backsafe® workshop and reported that within just days of injury prevention training, he could again experience the joy of picking up his young daughter, pain-free.

His particular malady was caused by improper wrist position while buffing the hospital’s floors.  He was exerting force and sustaining bad wrist position for long durations while operating his buffer machine.  Add vibration to the mix and it caused enough pain and inflammation to ruin his peace of mind and life style. 

A key datum to know is: whenever possible, keep your wrist straight.  This particular person worked with his wrists in extension (hands bent up higher that his wrists). 

The muscles that move your fingers are in your forearms and when your wrists are in extension, this contracts the muscle on the topside of your forearms.  When chronically in this posture, fatigue, discomfort, pain and eventually injury can surely occur. 

So, while you’re at work buffing floors; breaking up concrete with a jack hammer; using other power tools; or typing on a keyboard, keep your wrists straight. 

At home, the same rule applies.  

The importance of stretching cannot be overstated as well.  A brief and simple stretch can bring some relief.  Gently flex your wrists up and down—extra stretch can be attained by using the opposite hand to slowly pull fingers back towards forearm; and conversely, pull fingers towards the underside of your forearm.  If you experience any pain while doing this, stop immediately and seek a doctor’s advice.  

You can be in charge of your own well-being.  It is not your doctor’s job—it is yours.  Your doctor helps you if you become injured or sick.  You can be in charge of preventing injuries!