Heavy manual work brings an inherent risk of strain or injury. This can be from heavy or awkward lifting, reaching into difficult positions or prolonged bending. It can also be from wear and tear of joints over time. Strain may occur in the small joints, the discs and the muscles in the back, and there may be sciatica which refers to pain down the leg.
Sedentary work has a different set of problems. There is plenty of recent research showing the harms of sitting for long periods, affecting overall life expectancy. In terms of musculoskeletal effects, sitting can result in poor circulation, muscle weakness and can cause strain to postural ligaments and joints. Poor telephone posture can affect the neck and shoulders causing pain and headaches.
Retail work can lead to repetitive strain in elbows, wrists and hands or strain in the back or legs and feet.
Strains will tend to heal with time and appropriate management, with self treatment and osteopathic treatment being a very effective option. This is known as conservative treatment. Occasionally, the injury is too great to be managed in this way, and a referral is needed for orthopaedic opinion. The osteopath will know when this is necessary and let you know what you need to do.
Tips for work
- Ask for help if a job looks too heavy for you.
- When bending to lift a heavy object, plant the feet wide and bend the hips and knees rather like the action of sitting to the toilet.
- Use a headset at work for phone calls.
- Take short, frequent breaks away from the desk or computer to avoid back, neck or eye strain.
- On long journeys stop every 2 hours to walk around and do some brisk exercise for a few minutes.
- Sitting on your wallet makes you lopsided, and is likely to result in back pain.
- Sitting with hard items like keys or coins in your front pocket can cause damage to the tissues in your groin increasing your risk of hernia.
- Take the stairs every time and run up them.
- If you hurt yourself at work, remember to tell your employer and your GP, even if it seems trivial at the time.