Posted tagged ‘injuries’

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. 

 

The Mouse is a BIG deal! Who knew?

June 23, 2017

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive…Part Three

In our last 2 editions of “Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive” we began our discussion on how to prevent insidious pains and discomforts caused by sitting and working on computers.   These physical inconveniences along with fatigue and headaches are the result of “cumulative micro trauma” (CMT).  It fits the definition of insidious perfectly as CMT is apparently hidden to most people until the “micro trauma” accumulates enough to cause the above mentioned physical manifestations.

happy-at-work-saidaonlineThe GOOD news is just because you sit while working and use a computer and a phone (Oh my goodness!!) doesn’t mean you have to feel bad!  There is a technique for everything in life and FIT’s Laws of Sitting help people to prevent and eliminate CMT.

In our last publication I mentioned neck and shoulder discomfort and how a monitor’s position can predispose one to these conditions.  Well guess what else is causing countless people across globe neck, shoulder, headaches and wrist issues?  It only weighs a few ounces but causes tons of pain to many people.  The MOUSE’s position dictates where 6% of your body’s weight is positioned.  Yes your arm and shoulder weigh approximately 6% of your body weight.

Crispy-Computer-mouse-top-down-viewCheck this out.  Bend your elbow to a 90 degree angle with it next to your body.  Now push your elbow (arm) away from your body about 4 inches, the approximate position people are in when working with their mouse.  Hold your arm in that position for 30 seconds or so, or until you feel discomfort.  Please notice where the discomfort is registering on your body.  Now put your arm back close and next to your body again.  Do you feel sudden relief?

You will significantly reduce neck and shoulder discomfort (and even some headaches) by keeping your elbow close to your body when “mousing”.   The basics of office ergonomics are VERY SIMPLE.  All of us can better control how we feel on and off the job by learning the how to sit and use our electronics properly.  Call us to discuss our on-site employee and budget friendly Sittingsafe® program for office personnel and executives or our Backsafe® program for non-office personnel (800.775.2225).

Our next edition will address back pains and injuries and how they can be prevented on and off the job.  Until then reread this series of 3 newsletters on how to prevent office related CMT and make yourself feel better to more enjoy the life you work so hard for!

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

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.)

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!

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!

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!