In this article let’s look at global ways to reduce the risk of back injury and increase good body management. In future articles you’ll discover the correct techniques for moving clients in their beds and the art of the Transfer. These topics form part of the Certificate III in Individual Support studies.
Did you know a major cause of back pain, back injuries, and manual handling injuries is
failure to take a break from the task?
Here are 7 tips for reducing back injuries and back pain for Health Care Workers:
- Know your body’s limitations with regards to manual handling. These limitations change constantly: you may have a stiff shoulder one day, a sore back, or over time you may have grown stronger due to a strength building routine. This knowledge revolves around being aware of your body… listening to it… and communicating any limitations to a supervisor or colleague if you believe it will affect your ability to correctly perform tasks. This helps to reduce the possibility of hurting yourself, your client and even your colleagues during manual handling tasks.
- Slow down! Sometimes we get so caught up in getting the job done – we forget to be aware of ourselves. If you’re doing a lot of repetitive manual tasks, slow down, give yourself time to recover between each task, and if you or a part of your body is fatiguing – take a break. Never overdo it.
- Regularly take a break by standing up straight or stretching. Again don’t overdo it. You don’t have to become a contortionist or use ballistic movement to achieve a good stretch. You might simply place your hands on your hips and gently bend slightly backwards to release tension on the lumbar region. Some people simply walk on the spot, and using a cross lateral movement of touching the opposite hand to the opposite knee, help realign their body. (ie. right hand touches the left knee when it is raised during the walking motion, and visa versa).
- Be aware of your body position. Again this comes down to body awareness. Learn to recognize those situations where your back may be at risk. It could be while you are bending, reaching, or inadvertently twisting (something that should be avoided). Then adjust to avoid injury.
- Stretch or warm-up before performing the task. You might roll your shoulders while you are washing your hands, or gently turn your head from side to side to warm-up your neck muscles.
- Sleep on a good quality mattress, and take note of your sleeping position. The supine position (on your back) or Sim’s position (more on these on future articles) are beneficial.
- Look after your own health! Eat quality foods to keep organs and body functions at their optimum, strengthen your stomach and other muscles with basic weight training exercises, and increase your flexibility