Expert offers tips for avoiding injury

MARSHFIELD — The work on a farm never stops, even if the farmer is in­jured. Occupational ther­a­pist Tanya Schaer gave tips for re­duc­ing pain from in­juries and not mak­ing them worse March 16 at the AgrA­bil­ity of Wis­con­sin Sum­mit hosted by Marsh­field Clinic.

Schaer said pain from in­juries can be acute or chronic. Acute pain hap­pens af­ter a spe­cific ac­tiv­ity or in­jury while chronic pain is per­sis­tent and may not have an iden­ti­fi­able cause. Schaer en­cour­aged farm­ers to seek treat­ment for acute pain rather than al­low­ing it to be­come chronic.

“It’s much eas­ier to treat an acute in­jury, an in­jury that just hap­pened, than one that hap­pened 10 years ago,” she said.

Us­ing proper body me­chan­ics is the best de­fense against in­juries. Schaer said many back in­juries are caused by lift­ing loads that are too heavy, not get­ting close enough to the ob­ject, car­ry­ing an un­bal­anced load or pulling rather than push­ing.

“Just be­cause you can lift 50 pounds doesn’t mean it is safe,” she said. “If you have a dolly or wheel­bar­row, make sure you use it.”

Schaer said sim­ply spread­ing your feet far­ther apart can im­prove your body me­chan­ics and re­duce strain on your back and knees. Pro­tec­tive equip­ment such as knee pads can also re­duce joint strain.

Shoul­der in­juries tend to come from repet­i­tive mo­tions. While it may be tempt­ing to hurry though a task, such as shov­el­ing feed, to get it done, Schaer said it’s best to spread those ac­tiv­i­ties out to re­duce strain. A sim­ple change to re­duce stress on wrists and el­bows may be switch­ing to buck­ets that are shal­low and wide or switch­ing to larger han­dles. Grip­per gloves may re­duce the force needed to hold ob­jects and lower the risk of carpal tun­nel and ten­nis el­bow.

Schaer said sim­ply pay­ing at­ten­tion to your wrist po­si­tion can help re­duce sore­ness. Neck pain can be caused by repet­i­tive mo­tions, or it might also come from stress. Schaer said eye strain can also re­sult in neck pain.

Footwear that does not fit prop­erly or lacks sup­port can also cause pain. Schaer said it is a good idea to al­ter­nate be­tween two or three dif­fer­ent pairs of footwear, since the cush­ion in­side shoes can take 24 to 48 hours to re­bound. She said it is im­por­tant to choose footwear that gives an­kle sup­port but does not re­strict move­ment, and to al­ways fas­ten them prop­erly.

“Just like a house needs a good foun­da­tion, so do your bod­ies,” she said.

Once peo­ple make changes to how they lift, carry or move, Schaer said it is com­mon to have some mus­cle pain, es­pe­cially in the legs, as the body ad­justs to the new method. If you can stick with it, she said, you will no­tice a dif­fer­ence.

“It’s go­ing to take time to no­tice the changes that you make,” she said.

by KAREN ECKERT

Original article published in The Country Today, http://www.thecountrytoday.com/farm/article_c510997a-d172-11e4-90fb-2bb86e3405e3.html