2013-05-16 / Columns

Health News

Farming and back injuries

It’s “rush hour” around North Dakota as farmers are in a hurry to get seed in the ground. Even though farmers are in a hurry, they are smart to pay attention to proper maintenance and operation of their machines on a daily basis to avoid machinery breakdowns which could cost them valuable time and money. But, do people pay as much attention to the health and maintenance of their bodies?

This a good time to be reminded that individuals in the farm and ranch industry have an increased risk of back injury, sprains and strains due to the demands of farm labor.

Most of these injuries are caused by heavy lifting, awkward postures and repetitive motions.

Points to remember to avoid a breakdown in your body:

Heavy Lifting: Respect your limitations and know when to ask for help, use a dolly or cart or split the load and make two trips. Since the legs have the biggest and strongest muscles in your body, bend your knees and use your legs to lift instead of your back and arms. As you straighten up, keep your spine straight and in a neutral position. Hold the object as close to your chest as possible using both hands and do not bend or twist at the waist.

Awkward Posture or Positions: When driving a tractor or truck, sit with your back against the seat and with the seat adjusted back at about a 10 degree angle. Sit close enough to the steering wheel so that your knees are bent and your shoulders are pulled back. Keep your head back over your shoulders and avoid letting it lean forward. Shift your weight and vary your position every 20 minutes if possible. When doing jobs other than driving, adjust your work space if possible to avoid being in a twisted or awkward position.

Prolonged Sitting: Sitting puts more pressure on your lower back than any other position. Sitting for extended periods can lead to back pain, early spinal degeneration (arthritis), herniated disc and other health problems. An adjustable seat with lumbar support and shock absorbers and sitting back in your seat with good posture can alleviate the stress to your spine caused by prolonged sitting and repeated bouncing in the field.

Take a break every 1-2 hours to stand up straight, stretch and walk around. If you do this, even for just 1 minute, you will have significantly less soreness at the end of the day. Your body needs regular motion and activity to maintain normal circulation and to keep the muscles relaxed. Repetitive motions or prolonged positions cause fatigue in the muscles and eventually lead to pain and injury.

If we took as good of care of our bodies as we did our cars and machinery we would have significantly less breakdowns in our health. You wouldn’t wait until after the engine blew up in your car to change the oil would you? We don’t feel pain with many injuries, so be sure to have your spine and nervous system regularly checked by a chiropractor to detect wear and tear and avoid a major breakdown in your body. Remember, this is even more important during the busiest times of the year.

Dr. Charles Weigel
Total Life Chiropractic
123 Lake Ave. West
Napoleon, ND

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