In professional baseball, a pitcher is removed from a game after pitching approximately 100 pitches. He is sent to the locker room, shoulder iced down, and allowed to rest for the next 2 or 3 games before pitching again. This is done to prevent an overuse injury from occurring. In our work environments, we don’t have the luxury to rest for 2 or 3 days after a hard days work.
In the manual material handling (MMH) world, we are placed in situations that require us to lift, carry, move and repeat forceful activities throughout the day. In fact, many of us depend on the days work to maintain our fitness level. Our body adapts to the rigors of the work environment and hopefully we cope with the physical stress. Rarely do we prepare the body for work like the athlete prepares his or her body for a sporting event.
If on any day we go over and above our routine we feel the aches and pains a day or two later. That’s normal physiology. Your body will either adapt if the activity is repeated or repair in 3 or 4 days if the activity is avoided. As an aging workforce, our physiology becomes less adaptable to physical stress. With age and overuse, the body can sustain an injury because the work exceeds the physical capacity of the worker.
In MMH jobs, you should prepare your body for the start of the workday. Your core needs to be warmed with a brisk walk or light jog in place. Once warmed up, you are prepared to stretch the muscles, tendons and joints that will be required to perform the physical tasks of the day. When the body is warmed up and stretched it is ready for the workday.
Like a game, half time comes at lunch. The industrial athlete rests and nourishes the body for the second half. However, it is important to remember to warm up and stretch again. At the end of the day it is important to spend some recovery time stretching muscles that have been worked hard throughout the day. This will assure the next day you are refreshed and ready to work.