What is ART?
ART, or Active Release Techniques, is a hands on soft tissue massage method whereby soft tissue problems such as carpal tunnel, nerve entrapments, plantar fasciitis, low back pain, shoulder pains, and other pain syndromes can be alleviated.
Many soft tissue problems arise from overuse, repetitive motions past trauma. These conditions create an environment whereby tissues begin to “stick” to each other, rather than a gliding motion over or around one another. ART helps to restore that gliding motion which increases physical ability again.
Ergonomic Assessments & Risk Factors
What are Ergonomic Risk Factors?
Ergonomic risk factors are the specific tasks of a job that can cause the worker to use his/her body in such a way to inflict abnormal stresses on soft tissues and joints. These risk factors create an environment for Musculoskeletal Disorders, or MSDs. In the US, 1/3 of worker compensation costs are from MSDs. Individuals that develop MSDs in the workplace can miss several days of work, or perform light duty tasks. Generally, the cost of a non surgical MSD is approximately $12,000.00. The following is a list of factors acknowledged by OSHA, NIOSH that are considered lead contributors to MSDs.
- Awkward postures
- Number of repetitions
- Cold temperatures
- Contact stress
- Rest time between movement
- Static Postures
When multiple risk factors are combined through out a work day more risk is associated to cause MSD, although even one risk factor can be a large contributor to MSD. As a result, a task with a static position and very low forces, yet performed many many times can create the environment for MSD.
Duration, force / repetitions and rest time is the equation for developing MSD:
Injury = Force x Amplitude of the movement / Number of repetitions x Rest
It is important that ergonomic risk factors be examined in view of these variables when viewing tasks for improvement, potential challenges of work stations, and employee movement patterns.
Engaging experienced individuals as well as the workers themselves will help to identify risk factors that are not as obvious or observable to most individuals.
Why Manual therapy is not a novelty,…… It’s a necessity to remain at a higher physical functioning level
Our skeletal bones are rather rigid compared to the rest of our body. The human body can move through space as graceful as a ballerina, as forceful as a professional football player, or someone in the assembly line at work. In order to do this, the tissue between skeletal bones and skin, must glide through, around and pass each other constantly. This “gliding” is what keeps us flexible and STRONG. When areas of the body stop the relative gliding motion, we can perceive this as: stiffness, decreased flexibility or decreased range of motion of a joint, discomfort, pain, numbness, tingling, nerve pain, or a combination of aforementioned.
The decrease in the relative gliding motion that our tissue experience can be due to:
- Trauma or surgery
Development of scar tissues
- Overuse or Repetitive motions
This creates muscle imbalances that perpetuate the problem from a continuous cycle of adhesion formation
- Static postures
The worst repetitive motion: Postural muscles get no rest time between contractions. Again, a continuous cycle of adhesion formation
Joint changes from metabolic challenges:
- Post-surgical challenges
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post CVA
- Nutritional deficits
All of the above will produce biomechanical movement changes in the body. Muscles cannot contract normally. There may be undue stress on joints as well, where there should not be. Soon, it can be noticed in decreased range of motion, decreased strength, stiffness, discomfort, and as this accelerates through the continual production of adhesion formation (the body’s mechanism for tissue healing and in response to decreased oxygen), the initial “stiffness” may become more of a pain.
Our primary focus, whether a private client, or in a manufacturing or corporate facility, is to restore the best possible tissue gliding motion. Followed by this is biomechanical movement retraining, which, is also an essential component to teach and empower individuals to develop a best practice to reduce the chances of re-occurrences.
Full time working Americans spend at least an 8 hour waking work time at their job. In administration, this means long hours sitting at the computer, phone, or in meetings. In manufacturing, construction, and other physical related jobs, this means possible repetitive movements, lifting heavy bulky objects during the work time. Whether a static position, or a moving repetitive motion, the total effects on soft tissues can lead to decreased joint motion, stiffness, pain, reduced strength. When physical discomfort occurs, a mental component of decreased mental acuity usually accompanies that can lead to a reduction in productivity (Gisela Sjøgaard*, 2014) (Musculoskeletal Disorders and the Workplace: Low Back and Upper Extremities ), and later lost time. (” Economic,Benefits,of,Physical,Activity,”World”Health”Organization.”2003)
Thinking about postures and movements when at work is generally called “ergonomics”: the study and science of fitting the job to the worker. The caveat to this is that in many manufacturing industries, the equipment originally made to produce a product did not receive an ergonomic design; therefore, we have workers still using this equipment today. For this reason we look to the worker and other tools to reduce worker injury regarding Musculoskeletal Disorders.
Altering, adding, or changing movement patterns and postures are excellent ways to reduce the large number of MSDs in a company. This can be accomplished through: visual means, employee reporting, and using surface electromyographic and biomechanical measures. The later offers the most up to date information that is used to determine prior to any changes, and after changes, are employee muscles being used normally.
MSDs do create an inefficiency within muscle groups. BY using equipment that can record how the muscles are being used during a work task, a better solution can be developed for workers.
Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders
Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) Through Better Movements, Postures and Tools
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, trac 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. Nonefficient 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.
- Ealy 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.
Surface EMG: A technique in which electrodes are placed on (not into) the skin overlying a muscle to detect the electrical activity of the muscle, which, is non-invasive as compared to the more commonly known, Electromyography (EMG); an electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.
Surface EMG assesses muscle function by recording muscle activity from the surface above the muscle on the skin. Today, surface electrodes are able to provide an excellent assessment of surface muscle activity. Surface EMG can be recorded by a pair of electrodes or by a more complex array of multiple electrodes.
The use of SEMG in the private sector, and, all aspects of working environments help to identify problem areas of posture and movement patterns. This includes individuals and all ergonomic based workstations. Many studies indicate that although a workstation has been improved to coincide with current ergonomic recommendations, movement re-patterning of individuals may not change or fully resolve; in this event, stiffness, discomfort may still be reported. SEMG is a salient barometer to now change altered movement patterns through re-training by specifically trained professionals.
Physical Performance Solutions uses a multi-factor approach: SEMG, movement patterns, manual therapy, strength and movement retraining to restore optimal and pain free movements.