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The Big 3: How to Move Safely While Doing Physical Work

The Big 3: How to Move Safely While Doing Physical Work

Back pain, shoulder pain, sprain, strain, and other injuries are all too common in the workplace. Healthy posture and movements are crucial to preventing these injuries and keeping your body healthy and strong from physical work. Equipped with the right knowledge, tools, and equipment, the vast majority of workplace injuries can be prevented.

As pioneers of the MoveSafeⓇ Program, a preventative program to help reduce potential injury and discomfort in the workplace, we have identified the three main components of moving safely:

1. Wide Base of Support

A wide base of support helps you maintain your balance and work with your body to complete physical work. You’ll want to keep your legs wide enough that you can take advantage of your body weight and body’s momentum. You want to be able to move your body’s center of gravity between your feet for tasks like shoveling or pushing. A wide stance also helps you avoid slips and trips that can lead to injury.

2. Hinge at the Hips

The second component of moving safely in the field is to hinge at the hips while keeping a stabilized, neutral spine. Try to maintain a three-curve alignment with your butt out, back straight and head up with a little hollow in your low back and neck. Your head, shoulders, and hips should all be well-aligned. By hinging at the hips you can ensure that unnecessary strain is not being placed on your back which is a common and debilitating site of physical workplace injury.

3. Anchor the Shoulder Blades

When you’re working bent over, you want to make sure to keep your head and shoulders in a straight line. Anchoring your shoulder blades means to tuck your shoulder blades down and together. Many workers find it helpful to visualize an X across their back, from shoulder blades to hips are strong muscles that can stabilize the trunk.

Oftentimes, when working low to the ground it is tempting to slouch or flop your head forward which can cause a lot of issues with the neck and upper back. Anchoring your shoulder blades will automatically keep your head up and keep your body in proper alignment.

Physical Work Can Keep you Strong and Healthy

Moving safely and maintaining good posture is the key to preventing injury and keeping your body strong and healthy. By maintaining a wide base of support, hinging at your hips with a neutral spine, and anchoring your shoulder blades, you’ll have the right framework to get stronger and healthier from physical work, not wear yourself out and get closer to injury.

The MoveSafeⓇ Program helps organizations implement healthy posture and movement habits to reduce human and financial costs of musculoskeletal injuries. We work with organizations across a variety of industries including Energy and Utilities, Oil and Gas, Forestry, Manufacturing, Mining, Municipalities and Office Environments across Canada and the United States.

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