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.
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