A Total Musculoskeletal Health program implemented by a highly trained on-site injury prevention specialist drives better health outcomes. The ongoing dedication to building relationships with your people and learning your facility inside and out allows our injury prevention specialists to become an indispensable asset to your safety team.
As we’ve been covering in our latest blog series, the Total Musculoskeletal Health approach integrates health protection with health promotion into a single strategy to advance worker well-being. The four areas of focus for effective Total Musculoskeletal Health initiatives are: protect, promote, prevent, and perform.
Optimize the work environment to match the capabilities and limitations of people through the art and science of ergonomics.
Deliver preventive healthcare upstream to promote musculoskeletal health where it drives better outcomes and the highest value on your investment.
Shift the focus from treatment to prevention, transforming musculoskeletal health from a cost center to a profit center.
Unlock the human potential of your organization by giving people the opportunity to do their best work.
This is the new, proactive, prevention-focused approach to musculoskeletal health. View the graphic below to learn more.
Promote Musculoskeletal Health With a Workplace Athlete Program
Effectively targeting musculoskeletal health requires taking a proactive, upstream approach to healthcare while also breaking down organizational silos of information, goals, resources, and expertise.
Our experience has been that proactive musculoskeletal health initiatives are most successful when deployed through a specialized provider who bridges the discipline gaps that create organizational silos. Their role is “injury prevention specialist” and their responsibility is exactly that — to prevent injuries through a total, comprehensive approach that incorporates all the musculoskeletal health disciplines.
Our on-site injury prevention specialists work directly alongside your employees, engaging each and every one of them just like they are a professional athlete.
Regular engagement with an injury prevention specialist improves work practices and health habits. Over time, this is what drives better overall health outcomes.
The ongoing dedication to building relationships with your people and learning your facility inside and out allows our injury prevention specialists to become an indispensable asset to your safety team.
Workplace Athlete Education and Training
Promoting musculoskeletal health requires continuous education and training of your workforce to adopt healthy work practices and habits that decrease fatigue and increase recovery to maintain peak health.
Following are a few of the topics your employees should be educated and trained on, ideally by an injury prevention specialist who engages employees on a regular basis:
Stretching and Fitness Exercises
Some important points to remember about stretching and fitness exercises:
- We are ALL athletes in life. We use our body like athletes every day. SO, we should warm-up like athletes to prepare for work to improve our performance and to reduce risk of injury.
- Perform stretches slowly and with lower intensity when starting a new program until your body gets used to the exercises.
- Keep breathing at a normal rate before, during, and after each stretch. Never hold your breath while stretching!
- No ballistic stretching! Remember, gently pull on muscles and hold, do not bounce the stretch.
- Stretches should feel good and never hurt. If you feel pain during a stretch, loosen to a point where you feel only a gentle pull.
- You can also perform counteractive stretching when you feel fatigue or have been in one position for a long period of time.
Use Best Practice Body Mechanics
We need to work smarter – not harder! Using proper body mechanics will reduce daily fatigue and give you more energy left over at the end of the day!
Stay Involved in Ergonomic Improvements
Using an incorrect tool or a poor workstation design to perform job tasks can lead to awkward postures and excessive exertions. The ergonomic improvement process is designed to reduce risk factors that could lead to excessive fatigue. The goal of ergonomics is to design the job tasks and tools of the workplace to match the physical capabilities of workplace athletes like you! You are the real expert regarding the job tasks that you perform every day! So, you are in a great position to help identify high risk tasks that require excessive force and/or awkward postures. I encourage you to stay involved in the ergonomic improvement process, and do your part in helping yourself and others stay healthy and productive! If you know of a job task that everyone struggles to accomplish, I would encourage you to report the issue to your company’s health and safety team. Ergonomics improvement seeks to use improved techniques and correct tools, which will lead to less exertion and fatigue, and allow you to perform work tasks safely and efficiently.
Keep Your Body Hydrated
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health! Dehydration of the muscles and tendons is a primary cause of muscle fatigue, strain, and tendonitis.
In addition, there are many other health benefits:
- Helps remove toxins
- Increases immune system
- Increases joint lubrication
- Gives muscles an energy boost
- Helps prevent heart disease & stroke
- Helps prevent headaches and memory loss
- Improves skin health
How much water do you need every day? Most experts agree that this simple formula is a great measuring stick that should be used as a water intake goal.
Your Body Weight ➗ 2 = oz. of water per day
(Example: 160 pounds ➗ 2= 80 oz. of water per day)
Eat Healthy Foods
Eating healthy foods is one of the most important weapons we have to fight against injury and illness. The foods we choose to eat determine what our bodies look like on the outside and how well our body functions on the Inside.
We should eat fewer “empty” calories from dead or processed foods like…
- Refined sugar
- Soft drinks
- Refined grains
- Fats & Oils
- High fat meats
- Fried foods
We should and eat more calories from nutrient rich living foods like…
- Bright colored veggies
- Harvested whole fresh fruits
- Whole grains
- Good nuts & seeds
- Good fats & oils
- Lean meats & omega-3 fish
Consider Vitamin/Mineral Supplements
Supplements are not a substitute for healthy eating, but they can fill in the gaps and help combat fatigue and inflammation.
Experts recommend three daily supplements:
1.quality multivitamin and mineral supplements
2.vitamin D supplement with calcium and magnesium
3.omega-3 fatty acids
Get Enough Rest and Sleep
Rest and sleep are very important ingredients for your health and MSD prevention. When you don’t get enough sleep, muscle recovery is compromised and an increased release of stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in the body. If sleep deficits persist, we become more vulnerable to injuries and chronic diseases. Sleep experts agree that most adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep each day to maintain optimal health and safety.
Maintain Your Physical Fitness
Research clearly teaches us that here is a correlation between poor levels of physical fitness and increased risk of disease and injury. The lower the level of fitness, the higher the risk of injury.
To help our movement system run as the well-oiled machine it’s designed to be, we need to stay focused on taking great care of it. When in comes to maintaining the quality of life that we want and feel like we deserve, taking care of our movement system needs to be a top priority.
Three types of exercise should be included in your fitness plan:
1) Aerobic or Cardiovascular Exercise: Aerobic exercise is moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity such as brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, circuit weight lifting, elliptical machine, stair climbing, dance routines, etc. Regular aerobic exercise progressively strengthens the heart and lungs, is a great fat burning form of exercise, and has tremendous general health benefits. To maximize the health benefit, your goal should be to perform 30 minutes of exercise at least 2-3 times per week.
2) Strength Training: Strength training is an important component of your wellness plan. Yes, I mean lifting weight. Strength training has been proven to benefit all populations, from young athletes to seniors. For maintaining good muscular strength, I recommend a weight training circuit program performed 2-3 days per week.
3) Stretching & Relaxation Exercise: Did you know that daily stretching reduces muscle fatigue and risk of injury? Stretching increases blood supply and nutrients to joint structures, increases soft tissue temperature, enhances elasticity of soft tissues, and acts as a lubricant for our bones and cartilage. Stretching also increases a joint’s ability to move through a greater range of motion with less energy required to do so, decreasing resistance in tendons and muscles. Many studies have also shown that stretching improves muscular balance, posture, and muscle coordination.
Use Ice / Cold Therapy
Use ice/cold therapy to control fatigue and soreness after activity. Ice is the very best anti-inflammatory that there is!
Ice application should be between 15 to 20 minutes applied the affected area. An initial aching will be felt. After 5 minutes or so, this should go away as the ice takes effect.
You should avoid heat application after work activity if you are experiencing fatigue or discomfort, as this could increase and inflammation.
This is an installment of the Total Musculoskeletal Health series. Stay tuned for next week’s article on how a focus on prevention can impact your organization. Sign up here to make sure you don’t miss out.