If you have a physically demanding job, it's important to stay safe. Not only are you at a higher risk to injure yourself, those injuries have bigger consequences.
If you get hurt, you may be unable to work at all for a period of time. Or, you may be hurt badly enough that you can't work in that field again. This could mean starting over at the bottom in another industry.
Instead, take care of your body and prevent injuries. There are steps you can take both at work and at home to keep yourself safe.
Here are some tips to help!
Wear Your Protective Equipment
Yes, yes, you've heard it a million times. But still, thousands of workers don't do it.
Injuries are easy to get if you aren't properly prepared in your work area. For instance, if you work in construction, wear your hard hat, vest, back brace, and any other provided equipment.
Sure, some of the "cool guys" won't do it, but they're the one who will get hurt, too. This is your livelihood at stake - don't risk it.
Make sure your equipment fits appropriately and is comfortable. Let your manager know if you need a change or if any of your safety gear is cracked or broken.
Protect Your Back
Back injuries can be among the most debilitating of any injury. Because your back is part of your core, a serious injury can mean that you can't work in your chosen field any longer.
More than that, back injuries can have long-term consequences and linger for the rest of your life. It pays to take steps to protect your back!
Make sure you use correct posture while working and sitting. Lift items - even if they aren't heavy - using proper technique. Ask for help with a lift if you need it.
Most back injuries happen as the result of bad habits over time. However, a wrong move while lifting can also tear or hyper-extend muscles. It's never worth it to skimp on asking for help!
You can also protect your back by stretching regularly both at work and at home. Most of all, listen to warning signs - sharp pains, burning, and aching should be checked out medically right away.
Take Care of Your Feet
After your back, your feet are your biggest physical asset. Be sure you have proper footwear when you are on the job.
Make sure your shoes are comfortable and have good arch support. Consider extra cushioning to help prevent plantar fasciitis, one of the most common causes of heel pain. Also, watch for signs of foot tendonitis.
Stretches can help improve circulation and reduce strain. You should also take periodic breaks so that your foot and leg muscles can get some rest.
Drink Plenty of Water
Although this is another tip that is commonly shared, workers often fail to follow through. Water helps every aspect of your physical health.
Drinking water helps relieve pain and protects your spinal cord. A dehydrated body not only leads to aches and pains, it decreases natural cushioning and can lead to injury.
Having enough water also protects your kidneys, your heart, and your bones. All of these aspects of your health are vital to you being able to continue your work.
Drinking water may be hard to do on your shift, but find ways to carry a water bottle with you. Make sure to fill it up as often as possible.
Get Regular Massages if Possible
No, massages are not only for girls-day getaways. They are important for physical laborers too! Massage therapists are trained professionals who understand muscles, bones, and the human body.
Getting regular massages can help blood flow, which stimulates the healing of microtears and can help prevent major injury. Loosening knots can also help reduce pain and help you feel better during your next shift.
You don't have to spend a ton of money. Even a 30 minute back massage will do wonders. Just make sure the masseuse is a professional - your partner may mean well, but they don't have the training of a massage therapist.
Visit a Chiropractor for Help With Pain
Speaking of professionals, chiropractors are another great resource for those in a physically demanding job. They understand bone alignment and how ligaments work and can help a great deal.
Best of all, these medical professionals can help detect major problems, like a slipped disc, and refer you for appropriate medical treatment. Regular visits to a chiropractor can help you stay in shape and help you avoid injury.
If you need specific help with your muscles, your chiropractor can recommend the best stretches. Many will have a massage therapist on site as well.
Having a physically active job will certainly help you stay fit more than a desk job will. But make sure that you are getting full-body fitness.
If you do a lot of heavy lifting at work, be sure you supplement that with cardio at home. Even a brisk walk or short jog can make a big difference.
You want to make sure your endurance is good so that you can handle your shifts without getting too tired. Being tired can cause you to make mistakes, overlook safety practices, or use poor form when lifting.
Unfortunately, it only takes one mistake to put you out of work for months. So stay fit!
Enjoy Your Physically Demanding Job With a Great Attitude
No matter what type of job people have, they often seem to have a poor attitude about it. Everyone from a mid-level manager to a plant worker can choose their attitude and with it, how much they enjoy their job.
There's a lot of satisfaction in a physically demanding job well done. Our bodies were created to move, so you have an advantage over more sedentary workers. With the right safety steps and by staying healthy, you can avoid injuries and enjoy your work for years to come.
Interested in moving up in your career? Look for your next position with the Washington Post today!