Whether you are playing at Everbank field on Sundays or were one of the many who helped build it, the human body reacts the same way to repetitive motion. When a player is injured on the field, it is the goal and expectation to return him to play as quickly as possible and these same principles should be used when assessing work-related injuries. The similarities of movement and physical needs for both athletes and workers can not be denied yet we tend to treat them differently when they become injured. A sports medicine approach to a worker’s rehabilitation has been proven to be successful and reduce costs to the employer. The contribution of the worker to the production line is no less valuable than that of the athlete to the team.
Here are several tips to help prevent overuse injuries in the industrial athlete:
1) Stretch – Less than 10 minutes is all you need to perform a good full body stretching routine. This routine can be performed several times throughout the day as it is important in keeping a proper blood supply to your working muscles to prevent fatigue, discomfort, and reduce your risk of overuse injuries. Stretching can also reduce your stress level and increase energy.
2) Drink plenty of water –Fueling the body during activity is essential in decreasing the risk of fatigue and injury. Dehydration can cause the body to fatigue prematurely thus increasing your risk of injury. Be proactive in your H2O intake, if you feel thirsty, its already too late as this is a sign of dehydration.
3) Use proper lifting mechanics- Know your surroundings and always focus on your technique. Avoid twisting and attempt to keep your toes, hips, and shoulders pointing in the same direction while material handling. When lifting and carrying, keep the weight close to your body and avoid over-reaching. Lift with your legs not with your back. Avoid locking your knees and bending your back when performing lifts. Do not hold your breath when performing these activities.
Just as an athlete trains and practices, the industrial athlete must do the same. It is always the goal to keep our industrial athletes in the game and producing for the team. Injuries will never cease to exist but the above principles can assist in reducing the risk.
Mike Ligmanowski PTA ATC/L, CEAS I, CWcHP
Senior Regional Workers Compensation Specialist
CORA Physical Therapy