How our work can affect our health and how to avoid injury
Let’s have a look at some of the different types of work there are and how these can affect your overall health:
Desk based Jobs
Sedentary based jobs include clerical roles, customer service and driving work to name but a few. There are increased risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and back pain associated with this type. Some simple tips to reduce these risks are as follows:
Get up and move!
Seems so simple but regular mini breaks every 30 minutes are great for your head as well as your back. Think of it like pressing the reset button. Walking around will immediately decrease the pressure on your spine. You feel more refreshed and have the ability to work more efficiently. The hardest part about this advice, at least initially, is remembering to apply it! Therefore initially, you may need to set a reminder in the phone. Alternatively, have a bright piece of a post-it on your laptop/workstation to cue you to take a break. Once the habit is formed, this will no longer be necessary.
Mix it up - sit, stand or even kneel!
As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. This is most certainly true when talking being at your desk in work.
Standing workstations are becoming more popular and are a great way to prevent prolonged sitting. Ideally a mixture of seated, standing and kneeling positions, using a cushion to support the knees would be desirable for most desk based job. If you find standing or kneeling position too be particularly uncomfortable, revert to taking breaks and making your seat and arm height are in a good position
Your seat height will dictate arm position. It’s important to make sure that they are not placed too high up so that your shoulder can stay nice and relaxed. There should be no undue pressure going onto the neck nerves.
This may seem like generic advice but it’s one of the most effective measures in preventing back pain. Back pain is the most common ailment which affects office workers. Ideally we are aiming to build up towards 30 minutes x 5 times of exercise per week. If you are just starting out, aim for 10 -15 minutes and progress towards the 30 minute mark.
Which form of exercise is the best? Something that you enjoy is probably the most important factor. This will help to keep you doing the exercise. If you are at wits end as what to, simply get out for a 15 – 20 minute brisk walk x 3 times a week and build from here!
Standing jobs and manual labour jobs
These jobs include factory/store room workers, trades (carpentry, plumbing etc) and farming.
Repetitive positions can sometimes create overload e.g. prolonged standing, lifting, digging and kneeling can all be a cause of overload in the body.
Similar to sitting, taking breaks from these activities is important. 30 – 40 minutes work with 1 – 2 minutes rest is an ideal ratio to be working towards
If you are involved in a physical activity whether it is playing GAA or working as a labourer on a site, both are very much physical activities. One goes on for an hour and the other goes on for 8 hours, yet we only warm up for the 1 hour long activity! It doesn’t have to be anything excessive but doing less than 5 minutes to get some simple movement through the whole body can really set you up for the rest of the day. 5 minutes of light stretching at the end of your day of hard work will really help you for the next day too. This would also be useful for the office to help avoid stiffening up too much throughout the day.
Share the load
Asides from this, managing load in terms of not lifting too much without assistance is another important strategy to always employ. One lift that is too heavy may cause significant injury to your back so safety first is always a good principle to apply. This applies to any store room, warehouse worker or farmer. Many hands do make light work!
Protective clothing like gloves, knee and elbow pads are particularly useful for trades and are becoming more commonplace in building sites across the country. Having spoke with many retired carpenters, roofers and plumbers or those who are about to, they wish that this was more of a trend when they were younger.
most of our waking day is spent at our jobs, therefore, we are at risk of sustaining injury due to the work that we do, if we don’t follow some simple and common sense advice.
If you are struggling with a work related injury and need help with getting to its root cause(s), call us today on 025 35015 to find out more about how we can help you get pain free and back to your best!