Therapy professionals are at high risk for serious back injuries which can cause a lot of pain and lost work days. A study done by Massachusetts General Hospital found that back pain resulted in over 100 million lost work days in the United States each year. Avoid back injury at work by following these four basic tips.
1. Get in shape. If you are in poor physical condition you are more likely to get injured. One extra pound of weight increases back strain by ten pounds. Combine aerobic exercises 4-5 times a week, such as walking, biking, running or swimming, with strength training, to improve blood flow to the spine and to increase spine strength.
If it has been a while since you have exercised, check with your physician and search for guidance from a reputable Certified Personal Trainer. Pilates and fitness ball exercises 2-3 times a week are a fantastic way to strengthen and increase flexibility of the trunk and protect the spine.
Here are two exercises that therapy professionals can try to strengthen the spine without equipment:
- Bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift torso up, using abdominal muscles to create a straight line with body, then lower torso back down to barely touch the floor. Be slow and concentrate on tightening the buttocks and pulling in the belly button. Repeat until muscles are fatigued.
- Side plank. Lie on your side with your forearm on the floor, legs straight with one foot on top of the other. Lift your body off the ground into a straight line, balancing on one forearm and the side of your foot. Contract your abdominals while relaxing your shoulders. Slowly lower your hip to the floor and bring it back up. Repeat until fatigued.
2. Take more breaks. A study from Ohio State University found that even two 15-minute breaks from routine work, along with a half-hour lunch, helps prevent body fatigue. This study suggested that people tend to hurt their backs toward the end of a work shift. Those new to the therapy job should take breaks even more often than experienced workers to prevent fatigue induced injuries.
3. Watch your body mechanics. Keep heavy objects such as patients as close to your body as possible, and in a safer lifting zone between your knees and shoulders. Push instead of pull whenever possible. Don’t twist. Tighten your stomach muscles without holding your breath before and during a lift. Avoid over reaching or stretching when picking up or setting down a load.
4. Manage job stress. A study from Ohio State University links stress and back pain. The study concluded that people with certain personality types may increase their risk of back injury if they experience workplace stress. Some good stress reducers include physical therapy exercise, adequate sleep, relaxing music, light reading, writing in a journal and attention to spiritual health.
Back injuries are tremendously painful and as a therapy professional, who is responsible in treating many patients, you wouldn't want to experience and face that pain.
About the Author: Alice Burron is an affiliate spokesperson and highly successful personal trainer for the American Council on Exercise. She earned a master’s in physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming and is a leading national fitness and wellness program expert. Check out Alice's new book Four Weeks to Fabulous, created to empower the average working woman who is busy with her family, career, and wants to take control of her weight - and health. Four Weeks to Fabulous is available at www.2BFIT.net, or can be purchased on Amazon. Please note that when ordering on 2BFIT.net, you must click on Buy Now under "Special Offer for NurseTogether members - Free Shipping."
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