Back Injury Prevention: 3 Tips To Reduce Injury [Intuition Matters!]
Workplace wellness programs are essential to corporate success, and are an invaluable opportunity to guide employees to improve their workplace habits and wellness. The American Heart Association found that for every $1 invested in workplace wellness, companies can receive up to $3 in return. Talent Culture discusses why they are the future of the workplace, and multiple benefits gained from implementing workplace wellness programs here.
Injury prevention is an integral part of workplace wellness. For example, the most effective way to treat back pain is to not have the injury in the first place. Sounds simple, yet…What do you really know about injury prevention?
Injury prevention starts with:
- Understand what drives injury. If you don’t know what it is that drives sprains and strains, you can’t avoid it.
- Learn a different way to do move and accomplish your task, so you keep your body as healthy as possible.
Let us consider injury prevention, and what it looks like on a personal level, in the moment. We’re considering injuries related to your choices, not caused by accidents.Specifically, your thought process in the 2 seconds in time before the actual sprain, strain or injury. If you were to think back to the moment just before you got hurt, what did your gut instinct tell you?
Did you intuitively know that your reach was a little too far, you felt awkward, or your load was just a little too heavy?
In his book Blink, renowned author, journalist, and speaker Malcolm Gladwell describes how we unconsciously make decisions by interpreting events or cues and how past experiences can lead us to make informed decisions very rapidly. He states, “Decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.”
Awkward Posture is an ergonomic concept that relates to rapid decision-making
In ergonomics, Awkward Posture is defined as “positions of the body while performing work activities that deviate significantly from the neutral position. When you are in an Awkward Posture, muscles operate less efficiently and more force must be expended to do the task.”
In simpler terms, if the posture feels awkward, it is. If you feel that you are twisted, or the reach doesn’t feel right, or your body is just not in a great position to be doing what you are doing, in all likelihood you are in an Awkward Posture.
In our experience, most people have an instinctive ability to sense the awkwardness and risk of their proposed actions and postures. Yet we find that this instinct is usually tamped down or ignored, which often results in injury. We understand from Malcolm Gladwell‘s work that there is power in split-second decision-making, and that in 2 seconds we can form a very valid opinion.
Those 2 seconds are crucial, and we encourage you to pay attention to what your body is telling you. There is a moment in time before you reach too far, or lift something too heavy that you understand that you are at risk. Learn to reduce back pain: it starts before the injury, with injury prevention.
Let’s take a deeper dive into that moment: what is it that truly prevents you from re-positioning or taking one fewer item? There are two likely scenarios: the first is that you are ignoring your instincts, and the second is usually laziness – you would rather not make two trips, or step back off the ladder, turn it, and step up again. Whichever the case may be, our advice is to stop ignoring that split-second awareness of an awkward position or a poor choice of lift.
Tips for injury prevention:
- Trust your gut, your instinct, your knowledge based on years of experience.
- Change to a better position with good posture. We teach neutral positioning because that is where you are least likely to get injured, as we discuss here: how to not hurt your back.
- Be smarter: split your load. Make 2 trips. Step off the ladder, reposition it, and climb up again. Stand up for your reach. There are so many ways to modify your behavior before the strain occurs.
Get out of that Awkward Posture, because you know it is not a good place to be.
The next time you feel that flash of intuition: listen to it. Those 2 seconds could make a big difference in your health and well-being.
Workplace wellness starts with prevention: learn more about implementing an injury prevention program for your company today.
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