507,000 British workers suffered work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17, resulting in the loss of 8.9 million working days. The majority of these were related to back and neck problems caused by poor posture and repetitive strain.
Employers can play a key role in preventing and managing musculoskeletal disorders by planning a strategy that not only looks at risk and environment, but also provides employees with the tools for maintaining good musculoskeletal health. Injury can only be truly prevented if individuals are taught how to use their body effectively and to understand the crucial link between movement, posture and injury.
The power to prevent musculoskeletal disorders must remain with the employee. As employers, it’s our job to educate and empower teams, and help them to more effectively prioritise their physical wellbeing. Here’s how you can go further to ensure healthier, more productive teams.
Office massage is great but…
Many employers offer massages as a bi-weekly or monthly treat. They are a fantastic way for employees to relax, and feel pampered and valued. Massage also helps to improve circulation and relieve tension in the neck and shoulders, which is often prevalent in office workers and can develop over time.
Massages are a cost effective way of improving staff morale, motivation and productivity, yet they don’t address the underlying cause of musculoskeletal (Msk) problems. They should therefore be used as part of a wider wellbeing strategy, underpinned by education.
Educate your staff on musculoskeletal health and prevention
To get to the root of poor posture, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and other Msk problems, support and educate your teams on exactly what is causing the issue in the first place. From here you can empower them to make small changes that will reap big rewards.
Developing bodily awareness and learning how to sit correctly at your desk, walk or exercise while engaging your core and maintaining a good posture is key to preventing Msk issues. Musculoskeletal health clinics in the workplace are designed to teach healthy posture and movement techniques through a series of group workshops, one-to-one consultations and hands-on treatment.
Encourage regular stretching
Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to a whole host of health issues, not just relating to musculoskeletal. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and lymphatic issues are all related to a lack of physical movement.
Encourage your teams to take regular breaks from their screens and, importantly, to stretch. There are a range of apps, such as Workrave, that will remind them to do this. Although regular breaks may seem counterproductive, they actually result in far more engaged, effective teams and go a long way to relieving symptoms associated with musculoskeletal disorders.
Restorative yoga helps employees properly connect with their bodies. It is only when we are truly tuning into the aches and pains we may be experiencing that we are able to acknowledge them and do something to prevent them from worsening. Yoga also helps to strengthen the core – a key factor for correct alignment and posture.
Restorative yoga classes can be run during or after work hours and often focus on de-stressing and relaxation. They are effective for both the body and mind, and help to bring the focus to the here and now. Although, like massage, yoga is not as effective on its own, it provides a practical, physical element to a well-rounded musculoskeletal health management strategy.
Ready to make workplace wellbeing a priority? Get in touch to see how we can help you to create happy, productive and profitable teams.