Repetitive use injuries common with new parents

Repetitive use injuries common with new parents

While conditions such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow — known as repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) — are often linked to an occupation or some type of sports or recreational activity, Buffalo Grove physical therapist Gopal T. Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS, points out that the physical rigors of parenting can often lead to a similar level of pain and discomfort.

The continual lifting, carrying, reaching and twisting so common to parents of babies and toddlers, Dr. Raghunath says, make moms and dads susceptible to RSIs. As the name suggests, such injuries to the muscles, tendons and nerves are due to the repetitive use of specific regions of
the body to perform tasks, oftentimes in sustained awkward positions.

“Parents will hold, carry, rock and lift their babies dozens of times throughout the day, which after some time when performed for prolonged periods can take a toll on the body,” said Dr. Raghunath, owner/clinic director of Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, P.C. “This is the physical wear and tear of being a parent.”

Additionally, poor posture while performing these everyday parenting tasks can eventually compound the problem of RSIs.

Lift with care! Lifting, holding, and carrying your baby properly can save your back, neck, and shoulders from pain.

“Performing these tasks with sub-optimal body mechanics places the body under unnecessary stress leading to pain, tenderness, tingling and
numbness, commonly observed in repetitive stress injuries,” Dr. Raghunath said.

Dr. Raghunath offers the following for maintaining good posture and avoiding repetitive stress injuries while parenting or babysitting, based on guidelines provided by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA):

Lifting Baby from the Crib: When lifting your baby out of his/her crib, avoid reaching over guard railings and away from your body as this places undue loads to the spine. Instead, first bring the railings to its lowest setting, set your feet shoulder-width apart and bring your baby close to your body. Then, maintaining a slight arch in your back and bracing your spine tight, bend your knees and using power through your
legs, and slowly lift the baby.

Lifting Your Child from the Floor: Stand close to your child with back straight. Step forward with one foot and slowly lower yourself to one knee into a lunge position. Place both arms around your child holding him/her close to your body, and lift with your legs upon ascending up.

Repeat these steps when setting your child down to the floor.

Carrying Your Toddler: Avoid holding your child with one arm and/or balanced on your hip, as this can cause a muscle strain in the low back or sprain to the surrounding ligaments. Instead, hold him/her close to your chest with their legs wrapped around your waist, and balanced in the center of your body.

Lugging Around that Infant Car Seat: Avoid carrying the infant car seat to one side of your body or around your forearm as you would a purse or handbag, as this places stress on the back, shoulder, and arm. Instead, carry the seat by the handle with both hands, elbows bent,
positioned in front of your body with its weight distributed evenly.

According to Dr. Raghunath, strong hip and lumbopelvic musculature can significantly reduce a parent or caretaker’s risk for developing RSIs.
The physical therapy at Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation can provide customized core strengthening strategies, along
with assessing and treating your current musculoskeletal ailments.

Good ergonomics improves both health and productivity, says Buffalo Grove PT

Good ergonomics improves both health and productivity, says Buffalo Grove PT

It may seem like a simple matter of comfort, but approximately 80 percent of Americans engage in daily, long-duration use of laptop and desktop computers, primarily at work. Thus, workstation ergonomics is truly an issue of injury prevention, employee morale
and workplace productivity, says Buffalo Grove physical therapist Gopal T. Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS.

In fact, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics reveal that injuries resulting from workplace musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) due to poor workspace ergonomics account for 34 percent of all lost workday injuries and illnesses.

Neck and low-back strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, and shoulder pain stemming from tendinitis and/or bursitis are becoming increasingly
prevalent in the workplace, despite being preventable, says Dr. Raghunath, owner/clinic director of Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports
Rehabilitation, P.C.

“Sitting in fixed and constrained positions while typing or performing other clerical duties, and done repeatedly year after year, can take a toll on the body over time, leaving you more vulnerable to musculotendinous and nerve-related injuries, leading to missed workdays and lost
productivity,” Dr. Raghunath said.

OSHA estimates that implementation of proper workstation ergonomics can increase productivity by an average of 11 percent.
“Ultimately, a comfortable workspace that complements your body and ensures optimal postural health helps ensure high employee morale
and, in turn, maximizes workplace longevity and efficiency,” said Dr. Raghunath.

While both workers and workplaces come in varying shapes and sizes, below are some basic guidelines for creating a safe, comfortable and
healthy workstation, according to Dr. Raghunath:

  • Adjust your desk, chair, keyboard and mouse to enable your forearms, wrists and hands to rest in a straight line, parallel to the floor. Use a supplementary wrist wrest for your keyboard and mouse, if needed.
  • While sitting, allow your upper arms to rest normally on either side of your body, elbows bent 90 degrees.
  • Keep your head level (or bent slightly forward) and in line with the rest of your body. The top of your computer monitor should sit slightly below eye level, with the screen about an arm’s length away.
  • Ensure your chair provides appropriate lumbar support, allowing for a slight concave curve of the lower spine.
  • Keep your knees at approximately the same (or slightly lower) height as your hips to ensure that your feet rest flat on the floor. If your feet still do not reach the floor, use a footrest as a bolster.
  • Take frequent breaks throughout the day by standing up and stretching for a few minutes every half hour. Additionally, if possible take a
    walk during break periods or during lunch.
  • If stiffness, soreness, pain and/or numbness persist, it may be time to visit a physical therapist for a thorough assessment. However, before even reaching this point, the clinical team at Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation can work with you to help prevent the onset of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD), in efforts to optimize workplace productivity and, ultimately, your bottom line.