The way I move every day affects whether or not I experience pain. If I move well, I’m going to feel good. If I move poorly, my body is going to tell me. It won’t always be one huge mistake that results in a catastrophic knee tear or back blow out. Even the smallest of mistakes, done hundreds or thousands of times over a career, can result in nagging pain and cumulative damage.
A quick search on the internet will show you thousands of tips and tricks on flexibility, strength training, nutrition, ergonomics, sleep, and everything in between, for avoiding injuries. What you’ll be hard-pressed to find is a focus on quality of movement - and that’s a problem, as musculoskeletal disorders cost US businesses over $30 billion annually.
So if I can be strong, flexible, and warm, and still blow my back out, what’s the actual root cause of the injury? It’s the way I execute the movement; my technique. On the contrary, I can be stiff, weak, and cold but if I know how to move, I’ll understand when I’m putting myself at risk and know how to avoid compromise. I can work within my ability levels. All of those other topics can add a ton of value but without a fundamental understanding of movement, we’re at risk.
Movement is the base of the pyramid. It’s the foundation upon which all of the other benefits can be added. But it has to be a priority and it has to be a strong foundation because without it, the other pillars will fail and we’ll find ourselves at the physical therapist’s office.
Movement training doesn’t need to be complex. Mastering a basic set of principles should empower one to solve any situation they come up against. What’s the strongest way to stand? How do you brace your midline? Then how do you maintain that while you push, pull, lift, and do all of the other things we need to do in life?
Gone should be the days of only conducting task-specific positional training; training that only applies to one very specific application. Instead, invest in training team members on movement principles and challenge them to think critically about applying those principles to a multitude of job tasks. Have them regularly practice these principles and it will not only improve the quality of movement amongst your team and reduce injuries, but it will also build a culture of communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.
For most people, musculoskeletal injuries are a question mark. They’ve learned to live with nagging back pain, or a tweaky knee as if it’s normal. No one ever told them that movement can alleviate and prevent that pain. Learning how to recognize when you’re in a strong position and when you’re in a weak position will empower you to make better decisions about the way you move, and ultimately will help you stay pain-free and feeling good.
Wondering how you can prevent workplace injuries in your fleet? Check out: 5 Tips for Reducing the Most Common Fleet Worker Injuries.
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