Injury prevention

Body mechanics

Body mechanics refers to how your body moves when performing activities. Avoid twisting the spine and getting into awkward positions for an extended amount of time. Awkward repetitive movements cause micro-trauma to muscles, tendons, and nerves, creating inflammation. A byproduct of inflammation is scar tissue, which is the body's way of repairing injuries, and can adapt your body to unhealthy posture and movement patterns.

Exercise

Regular exercise - including strengthening, stretching, and a cardiovascular program - is important to maintain your health and prevent injuries. Exercise improves posture, strength, endurance, and flexibility and increases the efficiency of getting blood and nutrients to your muscles.

Posture

Poor posture over time can lead to muscle imbalances, pain, or discomfort. Slouching puts the head forward, which can lead to neck and shoulder problems. Slouching also causes uneven compression on the spine, which can cause low back pain. Becoming more aware of your posture is the first step in preventing injury, and doing exercise is important in maintaining your posture.

Breaks

Breaks are important in preventing injuries and fatigue. At least a 30-second break every 10 minutes is recommended when using the computer. For example, drop your hands in your lap or rotate your head side to side. At least one time per hour take a longer break for 5 minutes to change positions or activities, or to incorporate simple exercises.

Phone

People who cradle the phone with their shoulder are at risk for neck problems. This position increases stress on the joints, ligaments, discs, and muscles and can lead to chronic injury. A headset or speakerphone is highly recommended to maintain good posture.

Repetition

Activities requiring a specific movement to be repeated over and over will increase the risk of injury. Reaching, awkward postures, or holding or gripping an object for an extended amount of time without relaxing can all cause a decrease in blood flow to nerves, tendons, and muscles. Remember to take breaks, frequently alternate activities, and exercise.

Vibration/force

Working with vibrating tools, especially those that require an excessive amount of force or grip over an extended period of time, can potentially cause damage to the nerves in the wrist or tendonitis. Wear gloves if appropriate when operating equipment or cycling to decrease vibration. Use a wider pen to decrease the pinch force. Also working in a sustained cold environment will decrease circulation to the extremities and cause tissues to become less flexible.

Stress

Not all stress is bad for you. However, excessive physical or emotional stress can overload the system and reduce your body's work efficiency. Emotional stress can cause muscle tightening, reduced blood flow, and decreased flexibility in the spine and extremities.

Sleep

Sleep is important in allowing the body to repair and re-energize. Lack of sleep can affect concentration, mood, reaction time, coordination, and overall performance. Sleep deprivation also significantly increases susceptibility to illness and tendency toward injury.

Smoking

Smoking constricts blood flow and decreases circulation to all tissues in your body. Without good circulation, there is a decrease of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and other tissues.

Medical conditions

Common medical conditions that can influence musculoskeletal problems are diabetes, arthritis, and thyroid disease, since the circulation can be compromised. Pregnancy, menopause, or birth control pills can alter women's hormones to cause and increase fluid retention and increase sensitivity to inflammation.

The contents of this health site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.

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