No matter what you do for a living, you will generally spend about a third of your time at work. While some jobs will always carry with them a greater risk of injury than others, spending such a significant portion of your time doing any activity means it will take its toll on you in one way or another. Whether than means you may hurt yourself suddenly or gradually develop a problem over time depends on what exactly it is you do. But despite the vast array of jobs we work in the modern day, most of these risks can be boiled down to a few categories of injury. In this blog, we will look at the most common work-related injuries, and the steps you can take to prevent them.
Back & Neck Pain
In the age of the internet, an increasing amount of jobs require people to spend most of their day sitting in front of a computer. If we had listened to our grandmothers when we were younger and just learned to sit up straight, most of us could avoid developing back or neck pain, but these are some of the most pervasive issues for people who work in an office. Fortunately, these issues are relatively easy to counter, and just take a bit of getting used to.
The easiest way to make sure you are sitting correctly and avoid this pain is to think of yourself as a couple of steps, made up of right angles. Your feet should rest flat on the ground, directly below your knees. Your knees should be at a right angle, directly aligned with your hips, which should be directly below your shoulders. To avoid hunching over, you will need to raise your screen to eye level, so that you are looking directly ahead at all times. You may need to place the screen on some stacked boxes, but this is crucial to avoid hunching and gradually developing neck pain, which can radiate down to your back as well. You should also have the screen directly in front of you, not off to one side, as spending your time slightly turned will gradually wreak havoc on your neck.
On the other hand, a lot of jobs, such as retail or sales jobs, require people to spend most of their days on their feet. If you imagine a building, even the slightest tilt in the foundation will grow more and more significant as the number of floors increase. Likewise, the smallest deviation in how we stand travels up through our bodies, affecting our legs and our backs. For this reason, it is crucial that people who spend a lot of time on their feet have the correct footwear. This not only means shoes that are comfortable and have good arch support, but also keep our feet perfectly flat against the ground. You can learn just what type of shoes you should be wearing in our blog Finding the Right Shoe for Your Foot Type.
Some jobs have a wider variety of tasks than others, so if you work in a position that requires you to carry out the same task over and over, you have a high risk of developing an overuse injury, such as repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome. As the name implies, overuse injuries occur because the same body parts are making the same movements, placing them under a lot more strain than the surrounding areas. For example, if you work in a factory making sandwiches, your shoulder may be at risk as you reach back and forth between the ingredients and the conveyor belt, while if you work a job that requires intricate detail, such as sewing, you will place a lot of strain on your wrist.
There are two key steps in avoiding overuse injuries. The first is to talk regular breaks. In running, you can always go further in a marathon than a sprint by pacing yourself, so take regular breaks and allow your muscles time to cool down. The second is to make an active effort to move in other ways. Whatever the repetitive movements you make are, you have to ensure that you counteract them by moving in other ways as well. Swimming is a great pastime to achieve this, as the water gives you the freedom to move all body parts in all directions. Massage the at-risk areas is a great way to loosen the muscle and get the blood and lymph flowing, both of which help keep the area healthy. Doing a few daily stretches while at work is also one of the most effective ways of staving off overuse injuries.
Manual Handling Injuries
Thanks to health & safety laws, employers these days tend to take more of an interest in exactly how their workers are carrying out manual labour. But at the end of the day, it is your body, and your responsibility. While all employees are required to undergo training in areas such as how to lift correctly, the refresher courses for these jobs can be years apart, which gives you plenty of time to injure yourself in the meantime. Apart from simply forgetting the training with time, you also run the risk of simply doing what everyone else is doing, which may not be the correct way. You should keep a copy of the training material provided and flick through it every few months to keep it fresh in your mind. You should also take note of the tasks you carry out most often, or that you find most strenuous, and do your own research on the best techniques for them. This will only take an evening of research, and not only will it lower your risk of injury in the long-run, it could make your day-to-day job a lot easier.
The fact that we do something every day doesn’t mean we should get complacent about how we do it. In fact, just the opposite is true. When we spend so much of our time doing the same kind of work, it is in our best interests to ensure that we are doing it correctly. Remember that you stand to benefit or lose the most based on how you do your work, so take some time to make sure you are on the right path. It could save you a lot of pain further down the line.
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