Posted tagged ‘Safe lifting’

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. 

 

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!

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!