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Sore Feet? Maybe It is Due to Weak Foot Muscles!

All of us have more than likely experienced sore feet at one time or another. It could have been due from wearing those beautiful tight stilettos sported at a party, or from running that first 150 triathlon. Or maybe there is a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis? The reasons are varied. But, how many think of the main cause of foot soreness is from weak foot muscles!

The recent 2018 International Fascial Congress held in Berlin Germany, Dr. Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology and Chair, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, brought up very interesting concepts of plantar fasciitis. One of the many areas of studies Dr. Lieberman is involved in, revolves around studying the evolution of human movement; and, how evolution of human movement has changed over time. He also studies how different groups of peoples in the world move today.

His insights of walking and running in relation to the foot, and the plantar fascia are strikingly interesting. To boil down just one piece of information from his wonderful and engaging talk is that our western society culture of how we live and work is a contributor to weakened intrinsic foot muscles (the deeper muscles of the foot), that, in turn, places undo stress and work on the plantar fascia. Think about it: most of western society wears shoes. Many types and styles of shoes restrict and constrict how the smaller intrinsic muscles of the foot work. This limitation reduces their ability and strength.

Studies continue to indicate how shoes can alter how the foot functions as a whole. Because of the many moving joints in the foot and ankle, altered muscle firing patterns will place altered stresses on various joints. Most of which we do not feel while we are young, but certainly begin to experience the total effects as we age.

And, while there are a multitude of reasons for sore feet as mentioned earlier, the best two methods to begin to combat sore feet are: 1.) Exercising the intrinsic muscles of the feet and toes and 2.) choose your shoes wisely.

There are many exercises for the feet to choose from on the internet: suffice to say, ensure that any exercises you do, do not cause pain or increase any pain you may have. If that happens, please contact a health care provider such as a physical therapist or chiropractor that know feet to help you.

For choosing the best shoe, of course that depends on what you will do when wearing those shoes. Steel toes shoes are typically difficult, in that the steel or composite cap does not match up to the toe joints as the foot advances. Sneaker type of steel toe shoes, may not give the distance between the foot and the concrete to sufficiently reduce the ground reaction forces from the concrete.

RECAP:
Exercise your feet!

Choose your shoes to fit what you will do!
Call us for more information on strengthening your feet!

1.) Nicholas B. Holowka, et al.
Foot strength and stiffness are related to footwear use in a comparison of minimally- vs. conventionally-shod populations.

2.) Elizabeth E. Miller, et al.
The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot
muscle strength

Low back pain is a symptom of other musculoskeletal disorders

How Does the Range of Motion of All of Our Joints Really Affect Us?

Morning movement and stretch programs can do more for you than you think.

Low back pain is common and often misdiagnosed.

Points to changing how you move.

It does not matter what we do for work, outside of work, or where we are, movement is key to doing anything.  Even static positions are movement.  Muscles must attain a certain level of synchronized firing or you would not have the ability to sit.  Anyone that has even minimal neurological deficits understands this. This truth is never more important than as we age!

Certain joints are designed to provide stability, while other joints promote mobility.  Ball and socket joints are more mobile, while hinge joints such as the elbow and knee are more for stability.   In the diagram below, you can see alterations between stable and mobile from one joint to the next.

Some joints promote stability, others mobilityThe lumbar spine (low back) should be more stable, but because of hip or thoracic joint movement limitations, the low back must become the more mobile part.  In these cases, chronic low back pain and injury result. Looking at the model, “S” meaning stable and “M” meaning mobile, notice that the S’s and M’s alternate.  Now further look and compare between the model’s right side: “How We Should Be,” and the model’s left side: “How Most of Us Are.” One joint limitation can impact all other joints—not only how they move but more importantly their job function!

Also notice that if the hip range of motion becomes limited—stable—then the knee, a hinge joint that is considered stable, becomes more mobile.

The approach to morning stretch/movement programs and work place wellness programs linked below begin to address this.

https://www.functionalmovement.com/Articles/848/why_your_back_is_often_the_victim_not_the_culprit

 

Getting Beyond Low Hanging Fruit

How Accountable is Your Organization?

Employee health and safety professionals understand the importance of safety in the workplace.  They know that safety comes in all shapes and sizes.  Yet, when bad decisions are made by management regarding safe procedures such as lock out tag out, what are some of the possible outcomes? Well, this:

OSHA case study: How some companies still flout safety to gain economic advantage

In this OSHA case study, luckily there were no severe injuries.  But what was just as detrimental was the non-verbal but loud and clear message to the employees: “We don’t really care about you.  It’s about how fast the product can be produced!”

Robotics assist in many ways.  One way is to reduce possible awkward positions and sustained awkward positions of employees. When dangerous short cuts are imposed like the one outlined in the OSHA case study— allowing employees to climb into the robotics cage with the robot still moving—what else is an employee to think?

Couple the OSHA case study with this one, posted in the same timeframe in EHS Today:

SLC 2018: Engaging the Workforce Is a Key to Health & Safety Excellence

In this article, Dr. Fulwiher makes excellent points and suggestions.  Our take home, since this is what our organization tends to witness, is this statement of Dr. Fulwiher’s:

This requires a transformation in the leadership of the organization, be it a for- profit or nonprofit, understanding the need to become more transformational and less transactional.” 

This is very true, as most top executives and middle managers are truly only focused on the output in the long run.

People DO NOT CARE how much you know
until they know HOW MUCH YOU CARE

So many articles continue to revolve around this mantra.  And it is true, isn’t it?  So, what can supervisors, employees, and middle managers do to demonstrate this at work and also outside of work?

  • Take an extra 45 seconds to dialogue with any colleague, co-worker, and more importantly, someone you do not know well.
  • When conversing, look them in the eye and notice the color of their eyes. Most of us don’t look at those we’re talking with in the eye.
  • You can smile when talking.  Even if the conversation is a critical point, smiling shows that you do care, and also places the other more at ease.

We should not need classes on this. However it appears that  we do, since there are books, audio tapes, seminars and lectures that all focus on how to become more attentive, genuine, and accountable.

Accountability Starts at Every Level—
in Your Organization and in Your Community

We hear, read, and experience for ourselves the disappointment and frustration when someone is not accountable for something they said or something they said they would do.  We know what it feels like, and we would love the unaccountable people in our lives to become accountable.  Unfortunately, it’s beyond our power to change someone else.

Therefore, the only way to experience change is to change ourselves.  This is what life is about: change.  How can we become our highest selves,  and how can we truly begin to treat others the way we would like to be treated?  Here’s a way to begin in your professional life:

When at work, be accountable.  What does this really mean?  Your “yes” is “yes” and your “no” is “no.”

In a meeting, if you are asked to participate in a project, or asked to assist someone with something small in their project, don’t say, “I’ll see what I can do.”  Either say “yes, I will,” and give them the date by which you’ll provide the information, or say “I can’t,” and provide a reason why.  This is where your accountability starts.  Becoming more direct, detailed and authentic will yield better outcomes in all of your interactions, whether with your supervisor, peers or employees.

As a role model of accountability, you can then begin to challenge your co-workers and colleagues in this area, as well as coach those you supervise to adopt this revolutionary mindset and value.

 

3D printer manufacturing

Innovation Is Not Just for the New and Most Up-to-Date Products for Consumers

Your employees deserve innovation, too.

3D printer manufacturingA recent article in the Harvard Business Review focused on the importance of U.S. firms bringing home their innovation centers—which they’ve shifted overseas right along with manufacturing (Sridhar Kota, et al., 2018). The article additionally points out that the U.S. “has also lost the ability to do the kinds of process improvements that are essential for innovation.” Our expertise and experience tell us that there’s a particular deficit when it comes to factoring in the humans, particularly those on the production line and the assembly floor.

Sports medicine technology and injury prevention innovations and their benefits are not being captured by industry.  Innovations made in data science, virtual technologies, and data collection and manipulation can now reveal, in real time, just how individuals move, thereby creating the platforms for movement retraining and other methods to restore optimal movements in any individual employee.  The impact of poor movement and the benefits of optimal movement aren’t a line item on any profit and loss statement, but they are certainly being felt there.  You’ll never see human movement in a strategy document, either, but you should, and here’s why.

As technology innovations advance, companies can begin to see exponential growth.  However, if these new types of technologies are imbalanced within a company, collisions will begin to occur—in output, life cycles, and elsewhere.  Although these innovations work on paper, they don’t always integrate and succeed on the assembly floor.

An example here would be that engineering innovators are using technologies such as virtual simulators, like 3D printing and other types of technologies.  While on the assembly floor, employees are still required to contort their bodies in order to assemble the product.  Some of the processes can now take longer due to the intricacies of advancements in product design and manufacturing.

In addition, these enhanced assembly processes now require increased skills from employees.  Current employees require more training, and new employees require new and different training.  This eats up valuable resources and does show up on the profit and loss statement as employees must be educated, trained, and mentored much longer.

Manufacturers have no choice but to invest in innovative approaches in the manufacturing assembling process.  Robotic assembly is not the only innovative restructuring process out there, and in fact is ancient in today’s marketplace. Powerfully integrating employees into today’s advanced manufacturing processes is the Holy Grail.

This type of methodology and use of technology can be referred to as “translational research”: not only investing in the R&D, but turning that R&D into physical reality, and that includes technology-enabled proactive and positive integration of the human part of the equation.  It’s this type of innovative use of human-focused technology in process design that can decrease employee injury, increase the consistency of quality of product, and increase the efficiency of production time.

Most large organizations have not yet come to the realization that seeking out cutting edge responses to human limitations on the assembly floor is a critical component of strategy and process design in today’s quickly changing production environment.  SMBs are looking for big business models to follow.  In both cases, the ROI of focusing on such solutions is rapid and a conservative >800% in the first few months.*

For some years to come, human beings will be on the assembly floor, much of the work there requiring more awkward positions and/or tedious fine motor skills of the upper extremities.  Biology of the human body is not getting a facelift in the near future.  Therefore, using the innovations happening in human movement analysis, correction and optimization will help to integrate and capitalize on the human aspect of assembling the new innovations created by engineering designers.

*Case studies available on request.

Employee Morning Stretch Program

Why Your Morning Stretch Programs May Be Waning

Employee Morning Stretch Program
Many organizations have some type of morning stretch program prior to the work day.  They are often led by employees volunteering to lead the program.   We consistently observe at various companies that many employees do not participate in the program.  When asked why, the reasons are varied and some examples are:

  • “Stretching isn’t for me.”
  • “I don’t like it.”
  • “I do this at home.”

Such generalized statements led us to think:  Why?  We gathered some of these employees and asked them if they would help us in finding answers.  What we determined is that many employees do not participate because:

  • They know their range of motion is very limited and they're embarrassed;
  • They're overweight and consequently cannot perform the stretches, and again are embarrassed, or
  • They think that stretching will re-aggravate prior surgeries or injuries.

Morning stretch programs should be designed specifically for these individuals, but are not.  Allowing the morning stretch program to falter and die is a disservice to the employee.

Organizational managers and top executives can't be focused on output and EBITDA alone.  Remember, it's the assembling employee that IS your means to achieve your output.   If the employees are not educated and motivated to increase their physical abilities, the output will be continued accidents, inconsistent quality, longer output times and employee injuries.

If your stretching program is going through a similar decline, rather than scrapping the program welcome wellness companies in to revamp, teach, educate and motivate and continue to evolve the program.  Stretching—proper, individualized stretching—requires professional education and in-person guidance.

Targeting the audience of employees that are very reluctant and may need this the most in order to prevent soft tissue injuries at work or outside of work takes a gentle touch, the right stretches, and a cheerleader’s loving enthusiasm to get them to stay the course.

The benefits of treating musculoskeletal discomfort before it becomes injury.

The Benefits of Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) Through Better Movements, Postures and Tools

The Benefits of Treating musculoskeletal discomfort before it becomes injury.
Let’s be realistic: many organizations’ production/manufacturing processes and equipment will not be changing to “fit” the worker any time soon. And even if they were, workers will still become injured. Why? Soft tissue adhesions will continue to happen due to work station alignments that can’t be customized to individual workers. MSDs will result in individuals due to historical injuries that are difficult to record, track or know about. “Proactive” ergonomic changes such as reducing steps or reducing how many times someone handles materials can inadvertently cause other worker injury risks. For example, changing the work requirement from walking to static standing can be absolutely debilitating.

What’s left out of so many employee health and safety or ergonomic programs is a a focus on the individual. A blanket ergonomic program can correct many problems, but ultimately one size fits one. A proactive program to analyze and correct poor movements for individuals as well as overall has many benefits.

Such as:

  • Focusing on and correcting poor movements ultimately reduces costs. By proactively preventing and reducing MSDs, companies save approximately $1 out of every $3 in workers’ compensation costs. By continuing to focus on and correcting poor movements everywhere in the company and reducing the MSDs, indirect costs also go down, which can be up to 20 times the cost of one reported injury. If an average cost of an MSD episode without surgery costs $12,000.00, indirect costs will be dramatically higher!
  • Correct human movements boost productivity. Posture and movement solutions improve productivity by reducing muscle fatigue, especially towards the latter half of the work day. Optimal movement patterns need less muscle exertion, resulting in better efficiency of movement and a better quality product produced.
  • To emphasize, correct human movements improve product quality. Non-efficient movements lead to fatigued workers. This creates two issues: 1), increased risk for an injury due to lack of concentration, and 2), decreased quality of product made. The latter now delves into indirect costs rising.
  • Proactive programs to resolve movement-related discomforts create better employee/employer relations. Employees do notice when their employer takes action to foster their health and safety. And they certainly know when they feel better! And feeling better directly as a result of an employer-sponsored, employee-centric program builds a sense of satisfaction, loyalty and commitment of the company as a whole to build better products and to stay happily engaged in the process. Less employee turnover means less dollars spent on the hiring process and re-training. Less job-related fatigue and discomfort means less time away from work, less shifts that have to be covered, less disruption overall.
  • Early symptom intervention programs cultivate better safety practices. Safety is obviously a core value these days. As proactive care programs permeate a company’s culture, they increase all employees’ education on health and safety, demonstrate the value the company places on its employees, and improve employee self-esteem. It’s not the product or your customers that is your most important asset. It’s your employees. And caring for them in this way has an exceptional ROI.
Job Rotation Food Processing

5 Mistakes You’re Making in Job Rotation

Job Rotation Food ProcessingAn employee comes to you and says that’s he’s hurting. In this case, it’s his shoulders.  So, you look down the line for a workstation requiring a different activity, and you plan a regular job rotation with the person running that station on his same shift.  With gratitude, the employee goes back to work.

Four days later, the employee calls in sick.  His shoulders hurt too badly to work, he says.  He says his doctor wants him off the job for two weeks. Two weeks go by, and ultimately he doesn’t ever come back.  You’re surprised by this.  You did what you thought would solve the problem.  What happened?

This is a regular occurrence in manufacturing job rotation, and there are five common mistakes made in designing a job rotation program that, if avoided, will actually set you on the path to establishing an assertive injury prevention program.

Mistake #1: Not including movement training.  Nothing would get done without humans moving.  But are they moving the right way?  Work has two parts: the tasks to be done and a method for doing them.  Each task can be performed in such a way to minimize the risk of causing personal discomfort and injury.  Do you know the best way to physically approach each task that a worker will perform each day, over and over? It’s not relying solely on the use of correct angles, which is common in ergonomics.  That’s just a start. Using technology such as sEMG, it is possible to see how an individual’s approach to the work is causing him or her discomfort, and how to modify the approach to reduce or completely eliminate that discomfort.  More importantly, sEMG shows aberrant muscle firing patterns and different types of muscle fatigue.  Individuals most often can’t perceive this in themselves; therefore, identifying the patterns prior to an injury and prior to a complaint can dramatically decrease risk for musculoskeletal injuries.  Health professionals highly skilled in  movement retraining  can then train individuals on optimal movement patterns for them that will avoid musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injury.

Mistake #2: Not designing a specific stretching/dynamic movement program for each workstation.  A generic stretching program is a good start, but if different movements are required at different workstations, specific stretches geared to those movements will provide the most benefit.  For example, a welder may just need to stand up straight and perform forearm stretches between units to relieve upper body stress or have a high stool to sit on for a minute to relieve low back pain, or both.  Workers need to be taught these specific stretches and countering movements along with the task at hand when they are rotated into a new position.  Employees leading the stretch programs should have additional education on the general whys, hows, a developing critical eye, and an attitude of engaging employees that half-heartedly participate or do not participate.  This type of engagement will assist the program to become better.

Mistake #3: Not breaking tasks down into their minimal components and addressing each.  The task may be a grip and cut in food processing, for example, but there’s also a repetitive reach to get the next piece of work.  Are all of these movements considered when planning job rotation?  Analyzing time exposure, static positions, the number of repetitions, and stress angles on joints required by the work at each station are just some of the factors that should be considered in a quality job rotation program.

Mistake #4: Not proactively responding to complaints.  If the lines of communication are open and broad between workers and management, the first hints of discomfort will be revealed.  This is an opportunity to proactively address them.  First aid massage, Kinesio Taping, and movement retraining, review and correction are just some of the tools that can be used to diminish the risk and return the worker to a better physical ability.

Mistake #5:  Rotating employees to workstations with similar versus completely diverse movements.  Do both stations require using the upper extremities in similar ways?  Constant gripping or twisting or reaching and lifting, for example?  How is the back being used at each workstation? Is repetitive twisting involved?  Reaching down and pulling?  If you can switch an employee to a station where none of the same movements are required you’ll get the best results.  Even the order in which the rotation happens can have an impact.

Job rotation in a production environment is an art, but it can produce amazing results if done in concert with a highly trained production movement specialist.  If you’d like a free and confidential consult on an area of concern in your own company, please give us a call at 803-716-9167.

 

Osha's injury reporting summary form 300A

Responding to OSHA’s New Form Filing Proposal

Saving time and money while continuing to protect employees and maintain their privacy?

OSHA's form 300AToday, OSHA proposed a new ruling for employers with <250 employees that will:

    1. Protect worker privacy
    2. Save money
    3. Decrease burden employers for multiple filings
    4. Decrease burden on OSHA

Here is a small sampling of the introduction:

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Occupational Safety and Health Administration

29 CFR Part 1904
[Docket No. OSHA–2013–0023] RIN 1218–AD17

Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
OSHA’s regulation at 29 CFR part 1904 requires employers to collect a variety of information on occupational injuries and illnesses. Much of this information may be sensitive for workers, including descriptions of their injuries and the body parts affected.
Under OSHA’s regulation, employers with more than 10 employees in most industries must keep those records at their establishments. Employers covered by these rules must record each recordable employee injury and illness on an OSHA Form 300, the ‘‘Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,’’ or equivalent. Covered employers must also prepare a supplementary OSHA Form 301, the ‘‘Injury and Illness Incident Report’’ or equivalent, to provide additional details about each case recorded on the OSHA Form 300. OSHA requires employers to provide these records to others under certain circumstances, but imposes limits on the disclosure of personally identifying information.1 Finally, at the end of each year, these employers are required to prepare a summary report of all injuries and illnesses on the OSHA Form 300A, the ‘‘Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,’’ and post the form in a visible location in the workplace.

One of the questions brought up is: will doing away with submitting of the 300 and 301 forms increase the temptation for some employers to “hide” an injury. Can they? Let’s think about this.
The OSHA 300, 301, and 300A forms must all be filled out for any work related injury or illness. This proposal does not do away with not filling out the 300 and 301 forms, since they are the basis for submitting the 300 A form. Most medium sized companies, >100 employees, will use electronic forms for filling out OSHA forms. So, again, will not having to submit all of the forms that became mandated in January 2017 truly have a negative impact?
I interviewed a few nurses that we have contracts with to assist with their wellness and first aid. All nurses related the same message: the 300 and 301 forms still need to be filled out. The times OSHA made an onsite visit, they didn't want to look at the 301 forms, stating that it was a privacy issue, and asked the forms to be filed away.
In addition, the interviewees stated that for the soft tissue injuries, OSHA makes visits mostly due to the complaints they receive from employees.
I am not considered an expert on OSHA injury filings at all; however, I feel that companies with less than honest intentions are already “hiding” or limiting an employee injury. This proposal certainly will not increase the temptation for companies to be less than honest regarding their employees’ health and wellbeing.

Reducing Workers’ Comp Claims: A Radio Interview

Mike Switzer of the SC Business Review interviews Lori Peacock, CEO of Physical Performance Solutions, on the often overlooked and unique contributors to employee discomfort—including physical fitness—and how to optimize management of and provide relief for those factors.