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Preventing Healthcare Workplace Injuries from Standing

Preventing Healthcare Workplace Injuries from Standing - El Paso Chiropractor
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For many individuals, standing for extended periods of time is a major part of the job. Being on your feet for a large part of the day is a well-known story for cashiers, bank tellers, restaurant servers, mail sorters, and retail salespeople, but most commonly, healthcare workers.

Prolonged standing and walking for healthcare workers can cause or aggravate previous health complications and soft tissue injuries and its effects can usually become instantly noticeable. An abundance of individuals often experience swollen or painful feet or legs, bunions or bony bumps that develop on the joint at the base of the big toe, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, varicose veins, knee complications, low back pain, neck and shoulder stiffness, poor posture and the effects that follow, restricted blood flow, heightened risk of knee or hip arthritis and, muscle soreness and fatigue.

Through many healthcare jobs, as well as with other types of jobs, standing is frequently a normal component within a healthcare worker’s day but, when the physical layout or work practices of a task require individuals to reach across wide surfaces in uncomfortable positions or repetitively participate in tasks without breaks, individuals may be at a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries or conditions. Additionally, standing can be much worse when the individual has limited space to move around or while working on hard surfaces and/or wearing unsuitable footwear.

The structures of the body function together to hold you in an upright position. After standing or walking for an extended amount of time, its important to allow the muscles to rest, otherwise, the joints from the neck to the feet can become tight and stiff. Regularly when this occurs, the muscles can become fatigued, leading to tendon and ligament damage or soft tissue injuries. Also, standing still reduces blood flow to the muscles and slows down or stops the regular muscle movements that function to return blood from the feet and legs to the heart. Other body fluids won’t move unless leg muscles contract and if the blood or other fluids aren’t flowing properly as they should, veins can become inflamed and/or feet, ankles, and legs can also become swollen, causing muscle aches.

Our feet are essential for standing. The arches of the feet function as shock absorbers but with overuse, poor position, or flat feet, these shock absorbers may stop working properly and the joints in the legs and hips as well as the spine are forced to distribute the impacts of standing, walking, running or jumping. The surrounding tissues of the lower extremities can then become irritated and inflamed, making them more vulnerable to injury.

By law, employers must provide healthy and safe work for everyone in their workplace. Necessary precautions and changes in the workplace can be applied to help prevent injuries. Preventive ergonomic solutions that can be enforced in healthcare environments include fully adjustable work surfaces, equipment and work stations where height can be modified for easy reach as well as provide enough space to move and sit comfortably together with fully adjustable chairs and/or sit-stand stools. Also, healthcare workplaces should include wooden, cork or rubber covered floors and anti-fatigue mats to provide a cushion for the feet while standing for long periods of time. In addition, healthcare providers should be provided with enough seating in rest areas and lunch rooms.

Individually, each person can also follow specific guidelines to prevent standing-related injuries. If you’ve been standing for a while, make sure to take some time to sit and rest or move as much as possible. Preferably when standing, attempt to stand with one foot in front of the other rather than side by side and periodically shift your weight from one leg to the other. Then, an individual can also work with one foot slightly raised by resting it on a small footstool. Finally, wear a proper pair of footwear and use cotton or wool socks to allow the feet to breath while avoiding nylons which can constrict the toes. Overall health is important for everyone and prevention is the key for ultimately achieving a complete well being especially for healthcare providers who wholeheartedly focus on treating and offering their time towards helping and treating others.

By Dr. Alex Jimenez




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