Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) and injuries in the United States are as common as a sprain or a strain of the muscles. Improper movement, lack of stretching or flexing prior to lifting or exerting oneself tends to result in injury. A 2017 study found that as of 2014, the median work days lost for WMSDs was 13 days, compared to 8 in 1992.
What exactly is a WMSDs?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains WMSDs as the musculoskeletal system and connective tissues undergoing an event that spans from a bodily reaction (e.g. bending, climbing, crawling), overexertion, or repetitive motion. Musculoskeletal disorders are not caused by slips, trips, or falls. Examples of WMSDs are sprains, strains, tears, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hernia.
Most common WMSDS are sprains and strains. Sprains are considered an injury to a ligament, which connects the bones. Sprains are often caused by extreme exertion on certain joints pushing them outside of their range of motion, e.g. rolling your ankle.
Unlike sprains, a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, that connects muscle to bones. Strains are often caused by overexertion, improper overstretching of the muscle or tendon, improper movement, and support (shoes, tools, etc.).
Why is stretching important to avoid these injuries?
When you run or exercise, do you stretch to warm up or cool down? The warm-up and cool down period of stretching helps to prevent injury. If you think about an athlete, they typically compete for several minutes, or at most several hours—but when on the job site people are working much harder and longer lifting, digging and engaging most if not all the muscle groups. Stretching is designed to help improve the flexibility of the muscles and decrease chances of sprains or strains.
What is Danella doing to prevent WMSDs on our job sites?
Danella employees are encouraged to participate in stretch and flex activities prior to the start of work on any job site. The Danella Stretch and Flex Program is designed to be completed in the morning to teach the benefits of getting muscles and ligaments moving before the strenuous activities of the day begin. Overall, the goal of the program is to better inform our employees about specific stretches that can help them lengthen muscle tissue, lessening injuries and tears. Additionally, stretching can often help muscles recover quicker from fatigue.
Stretching and flexing is just not for the job site or athletes, but also for those at home and in office environments. Over the next several months we will share stretches to help you better prepare yourself to safely lift that heavy box, generator, or effectively lift your children or grandchildren. Look for our “Stretch and Flex” series online, by clicking here.