Tips, trick and advice for preventing a shoulder injury on the job
Your shoulders are made up of many components, including a complex network of ligaments, tendons and muscles, which affect our ability to interact with everyday objects. From grabbing a box on the top shelf to moving your computer mouse all day, your shoulders’ strength can determine how you carry out your regular work routine.
Weak shoulder muscles and tendons can negatively impact your quality of work. If left unchecked, it can result in a myriad of chronic shoulder ailments, including repetitive strain injury (RSI), rotator cuff tendonitis and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
Learn how to prevent shoulder injuries and safeguard your health in an everyday work environment.
What causes shoulder pain?
Long repetitive office tasks can gradually contribute to common chronic shoulder ailments. Over time, injuries can develop as aches and stiffness. Most workers are prone to developing a shoulder-related injury if they perform these tasks:
- Spending hours sitting behind a computer
- Walking with hunched shoulders
- Sitting with your elbows pressing upwards against your shoulder blades
- Continually reaching for high shelves using unnecessary strain
- Rapid shoulder and arm movements after staying stationary for some time
- Exerting pressure on to their backs when lifting
These activities and tasks can result in chronic pressure against the rotator cuffs, causing dislocation, improper blood circulation throughout your body and nerve-tingling sensations in the affected area. Office workers and laborers with physically demanding tasks are more prone to experiencing these symptoms.
Tips for preventing workplace shoulder injuries
Follow these countermeasures to avoid a workplace shoulder injury.
Facilitating a healthy lifestyle comprising workout routines can significantly improve your physique, core strength and muscles to further support your shoulders. Good examples of exercise routines to follow are:
- Weightlifting. Lifting weights help increase your overall strength as well as increase muscle mass. Workouts such as overhead presses, bench press, deadlift and squats effectively stimulate the development of arm, legs, abdominal and shoulder muscles. When weightlifting, never exceed your limits and always listen to your body. If you find a specific workout is exerting too much pressure, you should stop and adjust weights accordingly to prevent harm.
- Yoga. Yoga is a low impact workout that doesn’t expose your body to heavy weights. It helps ease tension, improve blood circulation, work on your core and alleviate stress. Fit a yoga regime into your schedule to help strengthen your body overall.
- Stretching. Carry out shoulder rolls, arm stretches and neck twists at your desk without disrupting your workflow. Stretch your muscles to prevent them from stiffening up, especially after prolonged physical activity or sitting behind a monitor.
- Meditation. The art of meditation has been a preexisting lifestyle since ancient times. It helps clear your mind, mitigate stress and relieve tension from your shoulders, neck, back and other muscle groups. A quick 10-minute session on your lunch break can help realign your focus and keep you in peak performance.
Improving body posture can significantly mitigate any back and shoulder injury, so it’s essential to note how you sit and work throughout the day. Sit properly with your feet planted to the floor and your shoulder blades relaxed.
Make use of your armchair to firmly plant your elbows and rest your back against your seat at a neutral 45-degree angle with your hips and legs. This will help align your spinal cord and ease the tension on your shoulder cuffs, allowing more blood to circulate.
If possible, avoid sitting for hours on end and instead take regular 10 to 15-minute breaks and stretch your muscles to prevent your ligaments from stiffening up.
Setting up your office space with proper ergonomic furniture can enhance the quality of comfort and also prevent stress to your musculoskeletal system.
- Adjustable seats facilitate improvement to your sitting posture while providing ample support to your shoulders, neck and back.
- An ergonomic mouse with palm support can alleviate stress exerted to your shoulders. Consider alternating how you hold your mouse and use your non-dominant hand once in a while.
- Ergonomic keyboards adjust to custom angles to prevent strain on your wrists and pressure onto your shoulders when typing.
- An adjustable work desk can help you reach objects without straining your muscles too much. It can be customized to your height without you having to sit awkwardly.
Encourage each staff member to adhere to safe bodily posture practices in order to minimize the development of a long-term shoulder injury. This can be as simple as a mandatory 10-minute stretching session before and after work or a healthy warm-up jog to get the blood flowing. Also, assign tasks such as heavy lifting to particularly healthy individuals so as to mitigate injury.
5. Health check-ups
Frequent assessments can help detect early symptoms of RSI, which can prevent shoulder injuries at work. Let your company organize a consultation room or assign an HR representative to handle and address pain-related complaints by employees.
If symptoms persist, seek medical advice and treatment at the earliest opportunity.
Employees who suffer an injury on the job may be entitled to compensation. If you are, you don’t need to walk through the workers’ compensation process alone.