Tissue Adhesions and Dysfunctional Movement Patterns Can Be Risk Factors for Injuries in the Workplace
Many institutions publish excellent guidelines on identifying risk in and around the workplace. For example, the Health and Safety Executive, a UK government organization concerned with the health and safety of Great Britain’s people at work or in the community, is one of the thousands of websites that use a digital platform to inform.
Information given out on these professionally managed websites regarding risk factors for work injury or accidents acts as a “filter.” Filtration is a process that separates the impurities, or risks, from the good of the process. So the question is: what are you trying to catch in the filter of your risk management?
The above pictures are a minute representation of postures workers assume during their work hours. Often these awkward postures either must be sustained to maintain accuracy of the work involved, or moderate force is also required in these types of positions, or workers must routinely get in and out the awkward positions throughout a work shift.
The same is also true regarding awkward postures for professional sports:
Although many of the assumed postures do not result in an instantaneous injury, the body can develop tissue adhesions that will eventually affect how tissues move and muscles behave. The end result will be stiffness, soreness, edema, discomfort, limited joint motion and tissue flexibility, and of course, pain, unless corrective measures are introduced prior to an injury.
In addition, different workers performing the same job tasks, will need to perform them differently due to their varied body types, strengths, and existing movement pattern dysfunctions. One worker is slim without difficulties in joints. The second worker is older and has been a physical worker their entire adult life. This person is carrying extra weight in the abdomen, which now increases the difficulty of squatting. Instead they must stoop over, thus dramatically increasing a risk of low back or possibly hamstring injury.
When you speak with workers on this topic, you may very well hear something like: “I don’t have any trouble moving like this. I always do and I never feel any pain.” Comments like this reveal that the worker doesn’t understand that he or she is just one more stoop away from hurting his or her low back. And, of course, it may not be at work. This scenario can play itself out in a home setting as well. The end result is an injured worker, and the time and cost now associated with finding help until they recover.
Risk Management = Proactive Movement Correction
Thanks to sports, we now know, through current research and publications in peer reviewed literature, that tissue adhesions, contusions, and other seemingly small innocuous injuries lead to movement dysfunctions: changes in how tissue moves and how voluntary muscles act (Hui Liu a 2012).
In light of this, even though a workstation has been ergonomically re-designed, a worker with muscle movement pattern dysfunctions will not “self-correct.” The body, when placed in a better posture or position will still require retraining (Peter Kent1 2015). This is conducted after going through movement screens and tissue adhesions are beginning to resolve (Richard W. Willy 2012) (Cook 2010).
This is one of the reasons why Musculoskeletal Disorders, MSDs, continue to reign high in worker’s compensation claims. Risk design is important not just for ergonomic reasons, but for movement patterns as well. This is an area that very few organizations, from industrial manufacturing companies to dental offices, assess. Specific and highly trained skills are necessary to determine what is to be filtered in the process of a risk assessment.
When we get together for a risk assessment of a work area, think of what you would like to filter.
- Cook, Grey. 2010. Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening Assessment and Corrective Strategies. Aptos CA: On Target Publications.
- Hui Liu a, William E. Garrett b, Claude T. Moorman b, Bing Yu c,*. 2012. “Injury rate, mechanism, and risk factors of hamstring strain injuries in sports: A review of the literature.” Journal of Sport and Health Science 92-101.
- Peter Kent1, 2*, Robert Laird3 and Terry Haines. 2015. “The effect of changing movement and posture using motion-sensor biofeedback, versus guidelines-based care, on the clinical outcomes of people with sub-acute or chronic low back pain-a multicentre, cluster-randomised, placebo-controlled, pilot trial.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2-31.
- Richard W. Willy, PT, PhD1,*, John P. Scholz, PT, PhD2, and Irene S. Davis, PT, PhD3. 2012. “Mirror gait retraining for the treatment of patellofemoral pain in.” Clin Biomech 1045–1051.