In our last post, we discussed quick fixes that relieve pain and swelling after an injury occurs. While pain relief is of course vital in the short term, icing and rest only treat the symptoms of injury, not the cause. To prevent injuries long-term, you need to identify the source of the problem and give your team the strategies and techniques to prevent injury and enhance longevity.
Remember the leaky roof analogy we used in the last post? Buckets and mops help fix the symptoms of a leaky roof, but don’t guarantee the leak won’t happen again. You need to find the source of the problem and fix it permanently. In this post, you’ll learn the strategies and techniques to prevent injury and enhance the health of your team.
Full Fix 1: Get buy-in.
It can be difficult to get buy-in on long-term injury prevention, especially if you have a team that has not experienced chronic or acute injury before or includes members who feel invincible. Or, maybe your team members have treated an injury before and feel “well enough,” so don’t see the value of doing anything about their long-term health needs.
To overcome these attitudes, TiPS suggests you frame long-term injury prevention as key to personal wellbeing (which it is!). Ask your team members to visualize a future that’s comfortable and in which they have a high quality of life. Then, ask them what they do currently that either moves them toward that vision or away from it. Stress that long-term injury prevention is an important part of overall wellbeing, and preventing injury is a lot easier than treating injury.
Full Fix 2: Find the source of injury.
Over time, poor posture or body positioning can do as much damage as an exposed wire, unsecured load, or other obvious workplace hazard. Long-term prevention starts with diagnosing your team’s body position and posture during the daily tasks, from work at a computer to heavy lifting in your warehouse. Remember that people don’t like to see their own dysfunction pointed out. Be gentle in your assessment and focus on solutions, not problems. TiPS can support you with a custom injury prevention training program.
Full Fix 3: Stabilize the core.
Ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, and shoulder discomfort are often symptoms of weakness in another area of the body: the core. People want to believe that they are just as strong at 45 as they were when they were in their 20s. This may be true of your team members who exercise their cores regularly, but not so for the rest of us. Gradually introducing gentle exercises to improve core strength can help these muscles function as they did when we were younger. When the core is strong, it can properly support the rest of the body, from top to bottom.
Full Fix 4: Retrain muscles and joints.
Once the core is stable, strong, and being used correctly, it’s time to take a look at how your team is using their arms and legs. Retraining body mechanics can be difficult, especially if we’ve gotten in the habit of using our muscles and joints incorrectly over a number of years. Patience, small and incremental steps, and a good plan are all required to retrain muscles and joints. Doing too much too quickly can lead to failure. We can help you create a plan for your team and offer them tools and exercises to retrain their muscles and joints properly.
Full Fix 5: Encourage general health and wellness.
General wellness is an important factor in long-term injury prevention. We’ve found a clear association between BMI and the probability of someone sustaining an injury, and strained digestion due to a low-fiber, low-water diet can cause back pain. Encourage your team members to take care of themselves on and off the job. Provide them with the tools, strategies, and motivation to make healthy choices and find activities that bring them joy (and a good workout).
Preventing injury in the long term takes time and effort, but the health and productivity of you and your team makes the effort worth it. Architect and designer William McDonough said it best: “Sustainability takes forever. And that’s the point.” Treating our bodies well now reaps benefits in the long term. To design a training to help your team prevent workplace injury, contact TiPS today.