A lot of us work in an environment where we are in one position for extended periods of time. These types of jobs include working at a desk, standing at a retail counter, monitoring security screens, etc. Remaining in one position for extended periods of time can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, vertebral disc problems, and bone spurs, to include a few.
Another side effect of staying immobile for long periods of time is a reduction in mobility, or more commonly known as flexibility. When muscles aren’t activated routinely, they get tight, which leads to a lack of flexibility and increases the risk of injury. In many cases, injuries experienced while lifting a basket of laundry at home or picking up a bag of dog food at the store can be traced all the way back to structural abnormalities resulting from being stationary for long periods of time.
So, what exactly does “activate” your muscles mean? Simply put, it means use them. Most of our musculature is at rest while sitting, which is why we feel “stiff” after sitting for a long period of time. That said, taking periodic “movement breaks” can be extremely effective in reducing the risk of injury. This could include standing up and stretching, walking to the water cooler and back, rotating your head to the left and to the right, and so on. Essentially, getting out of the position you are in most of the time is the point.
It is recommended that quick breaks be taken about every thirty minutes. It isn’t necessary to take more than 30 seconds to move around a little.
Other important factors for reducing the risk of injury include, but are not limited to a good diet, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise (consult your physician before making changes that include stretching, diet, and exercise).
Try moving around a few times throughout your day. Hopefully you’ll feel more refreshed!
Darren Meyer, CEAS I
Property & Manufacturing Safety Specialist
Catto & Catto LLP