These injuries can easily be prevented by encouraging good ergonomic practices. The most common injuries resulting from overexertion are strains (tendons or muscles) and sprains (ligaments), especially of the lower back. These injuries usually involve moving materials, for instance, reaching for or lifting a load from one spot to another, transferring the weight of a load to a carrying position, or lowering a load to the ground or handing it to someone.
As with all preventable injury, awareness and foresight are the best medicine. Make sure you’re familiar with any overexertion hazards present in your home or office. Causes of overexertion to watch for include:
- Heavy lifting
- Bending at the waist (especially repeatedly, for a long time or with twisting)
- Long-term poor posture (while either sitting or standing)
- Sitting while absorbing vibration through the body (as in truck driving)
These causes can be exacerbated by personal conditions like aging (with its loss of flexibility), poor physical condition and weight.
Once you’re aware of its causes, the key to preventing overexertion is to assess the situation and to work smart and comfortably, not hard. Ergonomic tips for avoiding overexertion include:
- Use good lifting techniques
- Avoid twisting or overextending your reach
- Properly position chairs and workstations
- Use devices like dollies, hand trucks, and pallet jacks
- Know your physical limits
- Manage personal factors by reducing stress, staying hydrated, keeping fit, and getting a good night’s sleep.