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Work Place Strategies
These strategies are ideas of how to work with greater safety and even better productivity.
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Have you ever felt stress or tension at work? Chances are good that you wouldn't have a pain or worry if you didn't. The reality is that people are often called on to do even more with fewer resources. They are faced with more responsibility and more deadlines to get their tasks done. The health of your spine may be at risk with these mounting pressures. But scientists have helped us learn that we have a defense against these mounting pressures. They have shown the importance of using the "Three R's" to help ease tension and reduce spine pain at work. Here are the three Rs:
This includes taking frequent breaks during the work hour. It also means choosing alternate activities to get your mind ready for a new job task. Activities include deep breathing, walking, napping, or exercising.
Take a load off. Lie back. Turn down the lights, and listen to your favorite music. Attempt to breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your abdomen to rise and fall rhythmically. Using visual imagery can also aid in relaxation. Try to visualize each muscle relaxing one after another.
Our bodies need a chance to heal. Repeated and prolonged activities can take their toll if your body doesn't get a chance to recover. Recovery helps repair these sore and achy tissues along the way, keeping them healthy.
Whether at work or at home you can use these ideas to help prevent back and neck pain and injury. Here are some additional tips to use at work to avoid tension and keep your neck healthy:
- Plan and prepare for the lift. It only takes a moment to ensure safety. The consequences of a back injury can be long lasting!
- Make sure you have a safe and clear path.
- Before beginning, think through the lift.
- Obtain good footing with a wide base of support. Place your feet a minimum of shoulder width apart. This lowers your center of gravity and increases your stability.
- Keep the load close! Keeping the load close to your body can reduce stress on your spine and back muscles. Think of how a lever and fulcrum works. Your back muscles, spine, and arms are the parts that form this lever system. The force needed to lift an object is lower if the load is nearer the fulcrum point. If the load is too far away from your body, the muscles of your spine have to work harder to help with the lift. This leads to too much stress on the muscles of your spine and can cause injury.
- Maintain the neutral spine position! By moving the pelvic wheel around its axis, your upper body hinges forward but your spine stays in neutral. Remember the neutral spine position at all times!
- Remember to lift with the large muscles of your legs!
- Avoid twisting AND bending of your lower back at the same time! This is one the most damaging movements to your spine. To avoid twisting, pivot your feet to complete the lift.
- Get help if necessary! If the load is too bulky or heavy, do not hesitate to get help or use a hand truck! Do not be too tough or too busy to get help. Will power does not take the place of a reasonably safe lift.
- Be Relaxed. Try to work with your muscles relaxed. To stay relaxed, look relaxed.
- Pace Yourself. Keep an even keel. Avoid sudden changes in your workload. Try to avoid last minute "panics" to meet deadlines.
- Take a Break. Take a thirty second "microbreak" every twenty to thirty minutes to do some deep breathing and a few exercises. Take a few minutes each hour to do some exercises, get a drink, or go chat with a coworker. Use your lunch break to take a walk or exercise.
- Change Positions. Avoid holding your neck, trunk, or limbs still for a long time. Plan ways to get the job done using different positions. Sit for a bit, then stand for a bit. Or simply readjust your approach to the task.
- Rotate Duties. Rotating or sharing your tasks can be fun by offering a new work setting while giving your body a chance to recover.
- Avoid Caffeine and Tobacco. These can heighten stress, reduce blood flow, and elevate the awareness of pain.
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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. Only a spine surgeon can tell if spine treatment is right for you.