As a rehabilitation specialist that solely focuses on spinal and spinal related injuries and conditions you can’t help but start to notice some trends between the general public and the ailments that affect them. Yeah sure, we do see many interesting and in some cases unique people suffering from unique conditions or injuries.
But the most common conditions we treat are in fact caused by our jobs. I am not kidding you when I tell you that the rise in occupationally induced injuries and overuse conditions have skyrocketed exponentially in the last 2 years. Obviously a large chunk of those statistics are due to the global pandemic that we’re currently facing. As more and more companies are embracing the remote work force model. Therefore the significant rise of employees and employers that are now left to work from home has increased almost ten fold.
That being said, workplace injuries are nothing new to those of us that work in the physical therapy and rehabilitation sectors. However, we do feel that due to obvious reasons the outlook has changed significantly as the cards we have now been dealt are technically not in our favor. With the current economic climate and the state the world finds itself in; we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss the challenges employees now face with a totally different set of rules in what are quite frankly, crazy and unpredictable times.
Therefore, in this article we will look at the current situation facing employees and employers, how it affects both the mental and physical aspects of occupational well-being and ultimately look at the risk factors as well as treatment options for workplace conditions, ailments and injuries.
An article written at Stanford University in California USA, shows that the most recent statistic is 46% of the workforce in the states now work from home on a permanent basis. That is almost half the labor force that now have a restricted work environment. And I can bet that the numbers are even greater if we were to zoom out and look at the global workforce as a whole.
And looking at a statistic such as this you would think that it would be obvious that this drastic change in routine would affect all of us in different ways.
Okay yes on the one hand many of the workers that don’t fall in the essential workers category have come out and advocated for the new work from home regime. They noted a significant decrease in stress and or stressful situations such as sitting in traffic, balancing home and work commitments and avoiding triggering social engagements at work (which essentially just means not having to deal with bullies or people you aren’t fond of at work).
They noted that because of the removal of these negative stimuli from their lives they could work more efficiently and they now feel that they have developed a better work life balance. And the employers, to an extent, seem to share this point of view. More and more corporations have noted that they are getting far better output from their workforce and by not having so many on site workers, companies are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in utilities and overheads. Make of that what you will.
However, this demographic surely does not represent the workforce as a whole. As many other employees and employers have been firmly and probably still are against the new work from your home economy. From an employee perspective the biggest challenges being noted is the fact that working from home has caused some people to develop a form of cabin fever. This can be linked to the fact that some people require social interactions, they require a change of scenery periodically throughout any given day.
They are your more social bugs in the office and staying at home being confined to a laptop for excess of 10 hours a day has been psychological punishment for most of these types of workers. Conversely, many high performing employees have noted a drop in their overall output, as working from home can be severely distracting. They believe that having or being in an environment that is conducive of performance fuels them to work harder. And being at home, on a mental level, is where they associate their bodies with what would be their downtime.
Trying to recondition themselves has proven to be difficult, not impossible, just a real roadblock in their daily lives. While other employees have sort of noted a combination of all the above mentioned challenges that they have to deal with now that they are “stuck” at home, as it essentially boils down to a lack of motivation as our homes tend to be associated with the opposite of what we know as our day or night jobs.
Similarly, employers have also noted that they are against the work from home policy and would much rather have their employees at their desks. As they now have a different set of challenges to deal with as corporations. This stems down to a value for work or output relationship, as some workers and we’re not pointing any fingers have seemingly taken advantage of the fact that there aren’t any rules in place when they are working from their houses.
Employers are not left with taking the word of their employees, who aren’t always truthful regarding their output. Basically, how many hours they get paid for and how many hours they really do anything work related. It sounds very disheartening, but unfortunately I have actually witnessed similar issues first hand, as a friend of mine very proudly explained how he remains logged into the work network but has a secondary device on which he streams TV shows or plays online games. In hindsight, I guess the employers do have a point, because unless you go door to door checking in on every single employee you are left to just take their word and hope you aren’t losing value for your efforts.
Now I know this isn’t true for everyone, but based on my personal experience working with everyday people from an array of different jobs, with different titles and varying socioeconomic backgrounds you quickly realize that here is in fact a trend emerging.
How the Work from Home Pandemic is Affecting our Physical Being
So we have now looked at the situation as a whole and touch on the psychological effects of working from home during these unprecedented times. We are going to take a deeper look into how this current economic situation has, is and eventually will affect our physical bodies.
When I started in my career, the bread and butter cases I would see on a daily basis in our clinic was one of two things:
In many cases, it wasn’t either or but a combination of both these conditions. Now a while back, in another article, we discussed the chronic lower back pain phenomenon. We look at what causes it, the various risk factors as well as the different injuries and their respective rehabilitative needs. Now a big part of chronic lower back pain was the diagnosis: Acute vs Subacute. But in the case of occupational injuries it is usually categorized as the latter.
The biggest risk factor that may lead or cause workplace injuries is overuse or repetitive injuries. As we all know, many of our jobs have a sense of routine, a routine that you would follow or repeat on a weekly or daily basis. Now having a habitual approach to your work has been proven to be efficient for ensuring that your work gets done in a timely and predictable manner usually resulting in better output by the company.
However, this routine has a significant downside that has been shown, time and time again, to negatively affect our physical capacity. In my line of work this is ever so evident with the patients I treat that do a desk-based job such as administration, information techs, accountants and even high performing executives.
The hours and hours of desk work, maintaining a very compromised posture has led to so many employees and employers developing significant overuse injuries in their backs, necks and even in their arms or legs. And if you factor in that we now work from home and the majority of us no longer have a reason to get up and get a shower, go to the coffee shop downstairs or commute to and from work. You start to see that this new system has significantly affected our overall activity profiles.
Our posture and our biomechanics have now adopted a new set of “default settings” that doesn’t “force” us to exert a lot of effort during our daily tasks. This new sedentary approach to life plus the fact that we are still doing our actual repetitive work-related tasks and jobs; we now have a serious issue as we no longer have a good balance going in terms of active hours vs not so active hours (we’re not calling it inactive as technically you are still doing some activity even if it isn’t very strenuous).
Personally, I have had the privilege of getting first hand experience on how some corporations have changed their approach to employee wellness. Back in 2018, as a rehabilitation clinic that also specializes in occupational care, we got the opportunity to consult on a really cool project. Essentially, a huge diamond mining conglomerate started noticing a trend in the amount of workplace injuries, sick days due to musculoskeletal injuries and other health conditions. The company did a survey/study and came to the conclusion that the average employee had taken on about 10 more sick days annually. And being a production based company where a lack of labor directly affects the bottom line, they decided to do something about it.
Thus we were contracted to do a risk assessment for the entire company payroll. From the chief executives to the security personnel. Why this project was so fascinating was that we developed a risk rating for each job description. And each risk rating required a certain baseline fitness level that would be tested annually. So for example an engineer needed to have a minimum amount of lifting strength, overhead endurance and VO2 max. But this wasn’t tested in a traditional sense with barbells and cycle ergometers or treadmills, we developed a practical protocol that mimicked real work experiences while still testing the core data we needed.
This approach proved to be highly successful as multiple interventions were carried out for many different employees with different job descriptions. We were able to find workers with eating disorders and get them the help they needed to turn their lives around. We could identify certain risk factors such as pre-hypertensive and pre-diabetic patients, which allowed us to educate them on the potential conditions they could develop and suffer from in the future. This entire initiative created far more healthier and balanced workers that not only did employee morale improve but so did their production which in turn helped the bottom line of the company.
This is an example of how it should and could be done and implemented. It also shows that it is not only those stuck behind a desk that are at risk for workplace injuries. Because every job is unique and that should be taken into consideration when looking at your employees or when proposing a similar concept to your employers.
Which begs the question…
Do different jobs carry different levels of risk?
The short answer is yes, yes they do. However many jobs get bunched together due to their similar nature from an operational perspective.
That is because as we just stated, not all work or work related tasks are low impact and repetitive. Some of us don’t work in an office but still do jobs that can lead to injuries occurring, usually in a more acute fashion. For example, as a postman or postal service driver or delivery man or woman, you not only sit all day driving around from stop to stop.
But you have the added disadvantage of having to load and unload parcels that may vary in weight and dimension. Doing this type of job repetitively can significantly increase your risk of getting a work related injury. Although this type of occupation doesn’t require you to work from home, the risk remains the same.
Additionally, as essential workers the new status quo also poses significant risk to our health. In my own experience, being an essential worker during these unprecedented times has led to an increase in overuse ailments and injuries. Because times are so stressful and work hours are so difficult to predict given everything that is going on, more often than not our essential workers find themselves working in environments that are completely different to that which we are used to. All of a sudden, we are standing longer, working longer shifts and experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. Our bodies end up taking a punch under these circumstances and have increased the amount of chronic injuries directly related to work.
All in all, both scenarios hold true, before and more after the pandemic. I do however believe that the pandemic in a way has been a blessing in disguise. Because more and more patients have opened up to me admitting that they haven’t been paying attention to the physical side of their being with regard to their work or jobs. They also admit that this current situation has forced them to pay attention to their health as a lot of the niggles and aches that they have either been ignoring or managing on as needed basis, now have developed into a chronic issue; which is why we are currently seeing the increased numbers of people suffering from an array of occupationally related injuries.
Look at Yourself First…
Before everyone gets up and starts blaming their injuries on their manager, or supervisor or the guy in accounting that beat you in your fantasy football league last season, we need to first take a look at ourselves. Yes, jobs of all kinds carry a certain level of risk depending on the type of work you do. But that does not mean that your job description alone is to blame for your current condition or your potential condition. Unfortunately this isn’t a linear relationship, as other factors do come into play here.
Therefore, we need to take a step back and look at ourselves. And by that we mean, what are we doing on a daily basis that is both directly and indirectly affecting our ability to do our jobs?
Factors such as:
All of these things can have a detrimental effect on your body. And if our bodies are all banged up, stressed, overused, tense and inflamed; what do you think 8 hours of repetitive work will do to our bodies? Of Course we are going to get hurt, it is like trying to drive a car that doesn’t get serviced regularly - it will drive but eventually it will break down.
So we all need to take ownership of what we can control, now I know that isn’t always easy as life is very unpredictable. But that shouldn’t be an excuse not to even try looking after yourself. I mean you’re probably going to be doing some form of work for the next 30-40 years? Why would you go into that handicapped?
But we digress, as workplace injuries can technically happen to even the fittest and healthiest of individuals. In the event that you do get hurt, we have set out to look at all the factors that may cause it and how to go about treating the injury and also implementing habits and strategies to aid in preventing you from getting hurt again.
Most Common Workplace Injuries
When we mention workplace injuries most people assume that the type of work causing said injury is of a strenuous nature. We usually associate it with construction work or something in the mining or oil industries. However, this is actually not the reality as the most common workplace injuries usually affect those of us who do not work extremely labor intensive jobs.
It is the jobs that require little to physical effort to complete but have a consistent amount of repetitive movements or actions that seem to cause the most damage.
The premise behind this fact is based on the actual lack of activity that people in low intensity jobs experience. Sure, with your highly physically demanding occupations there is always a risk of getting hurt and 9 times out of 10 when someone does get hurt it is usually a serious injury. But the frequency of these types of injuries are far less due to the fact that people in labor intensive jobs receive adequate stimulation.
Their bodies get conditioned to lift heavy objects or drive high load vehicles or whatever the case maybe; in order to do their job successfully they have to be in decent physical shape. Think of a seasoned firefighter, in order for those guys and girls to save lives they need to be strong and fit, now this does not mean they do not get hurt but because they prepare their bodies for the rigors of their jobs they are better suited to handle the stresses both mentally and physically that accompany their jobs.
In contrast, when we look at jobs that have lower labor intensity, such as administration or bookkeeping; where you are required to sit all day, you will see how these individuals struggle with a myriad of conditions.
Common conditions include:
And this is only us going over the main ones, there are a lot more overuse conditions that can be caused by your job. However, they are far more rare and less likely to develop, although not impossible.
That being said, all of these injuries stem from overuse, sitting for hours on end in the same compromised position trying to meet deadlines etc can have such a detrimental effect on your health.
Well, this will ultimately depend on the extent of your specific injury. But for the sake of this article and to give you guys some valuable content I am going to look at the treatment options for the most common workplace injuries. These injuries are:
Chronic lower back is by far the most common of all the work place injuries. In fact, in our spinal clinic one out of three patients that we treat suffer from chronic lower back pain. Now I do feel that we should tell you that all chronic lower back conditions are not the same as it will depend on the area the pain is stemming from, meaning could it refer to or from the back to or from other areas of the body. It could also depend on whether or not it is an old injury or even whether or not the injury is soft tissue related or is it a structural concern (muscular injury vs a bone or connective tissue injury).
That being said, your approach to treatment should be divided into two phases:
In terms of pain management it again depends on the severity of your specific injury. For injuries of a severe nature, please consult your primary care physician. I know that taking pain medications or painkillers are frowned upon these days as society is moving toward a more holistic approach to medicine. However, when it comes to acute pain taking something as simple as an over the counter painkiller can significantly aid in your recovery. Again we’re not suggesting or prescribing you do so, it is merely our professional opinion based on years of experience with this sort of thing.
However, in cases where the pain is a bit more subacute and chronic you won’t necessarily need an immediate intervention per say; but treating your pain will still need to take priority over anything else. The reason being, as long as you have pain you won’t have or will have limited functionality. The gold standard in cases like this, particularly for the lower back region of the body is to go see your physical therapist. I know it might seem like a lot of effort and it might disrupt your schedule a few days a week for a few weeks. But trust us, it will surely be worth your time to go and see a therapist as they significantly help reduce and even in some cases eliminate all your painful symptoms.
But what if you don’t have access or can’t afford to go see a physical therapist regularly as your insurance doesn’t cover or something along those lines. Well, then we suggest managing it by yourself at home using some home remedies. These at home remedies include:
Of course all of these home treatment options can be used for any one of the above mentioned injuries as it is not solely for lower back injuries. Additionally, it is not a case of one or the other treatment method, you can go ahead and use a combination of all three. In fact, contrast therapy is a technique used by therapists where they alternate between heating and cooling the injured area. What this does is reduce inflammation and swelling, if there is any swelling in the area, but at the same time relaxes the musculature in the area by promoting blood flow into the injured region of your body. This increased blood flow aids with recovery of the injury.
As for your rehabilitation or intervention you should always consult your primary care giver or an allied health care practitioner such as a physical therapist, athletic trainer or rehabilitation specialist. Again, we empathize with the fact that not everyone has access to these types of practitioners and that’s why we have decided to include advice and suggestions for you to use at home to help treat your specific condition.
For this section we will be looking at mobility exercises for both chronic lower back pain as well as conditions of the upper back and cervical spine region. This section will be broken down into two sections namely 1. Stretches and 2. Exercises and we are going to structure it in such a fashion that you can essentially just copy and paste our template program and start using it today.
Let’s start with the lower back stretches and exercises:
Knees to chest
Focus on control
Focus on the full ROM*
Start with 1 set and build to 3
3 sets per side; start with 1 and build to 3
Activate the TA after each rep
Descriptions and Instructions: Stretches
Now that we have covered what you will be doing in terms of stretches and exercises, we thought it best to give you guys some guidance with regards to how to perform each of these exercises/stretches and any specific cues you will need to do so safely and effectively.
Knees to Chest Stretch - Lying flat your back with your legs straightened; bend your right leg at the knee, grab it behind your thigh at the hamstring area and pull your leg towards your chest. Maintain this position for the duration of time needed, relax and repeat on your left leg. The most important cue for this stretch is that you need to keep your upper body, particularly your neck, relaxed.
Crossover Stretch - Lying flat on your back with your legs straightened; bend your right leg at the knee, lift your right foot over your left leg and place your foot down next to your leg on the floor. It should look like you're lying down with your legs crossed. Using your left hand, grab your right knee and pull it across your body and towards the ground, while slowly twisting your lower back and hip towards the left. Relax, return to the starting position and repeat this process on the opposite side. The key here is to try and keep your foot firmly on the ground when pulling the knee across your body, if the foot does in fact lift, that is okay as you can be a bit more flexible, this will improve.
Piriformis Stretch - Again, lying on your back, bend both your legs at the knees. Now lift the right leg and place the outside of your right ankle on your left knee. Now go ahead and place your right arm between the inside of both your thighs and place it on your left hamstring; now place your left on the outside of your left hamstring. Now go ahead and pull and lift both legs towards your chest. Hold this position for the entire specified time/rep. Relax and switch positions to the opposite side and repeat the exercise. I know this seems overly complicated, but trust us on this one as it will really help!
Hamstring Stretch - Lying on your back with both your legs straight out in front of you; bend your right leg, lift your right foot holding your leg bent at a 90 degree angle. Take a bathroom towel, roll it up along its length and place under your foot holding the two ends of the towel between your hands. Proceed to straighten your legs, pushing the base of your foot against the towel. Once straightened, slowly lift your leg using the tension in the towel; raise your straight leg until you feel a moderate stretch/discomfort. Hold this position for the allotted time, relax by slowly lowering the leg and then repeat.
Lats’ Stretch - This stretch can be done using a chair, bar stool and or window sill. Place your chair or stool about 3 feet in front of you; if you’re using a window sill stand facing it and about two to three feet away from it. Place your arms about shoulder width apart on the object you have chosen to use. Keeping your arms straight in front of you, flex (bend) at the hips, pushing your chest down to the ground. Hold this position for the designated time and then you can return to the starting position. Repeat this process 2-3 times depending on how you’re feeling.
Cat & Camel - Also known as cat and cow exercise; this movement requires you to go down on your hands and knees and assume an almost “crawling position”. In this position you want to arch your back into a position that resembles a cat in a stretching position. Hold this position for about 2 seconds and proceed to pull your belly button down to the ground, arching your back in the position direction; again hold this position for another 2 seconds and return to neutral. Repeat this for the allocated number of reps.
Active Cobra Stretch - Lying prone (on your stomach) place your hands palms down and adjacent to your body in line with your chest. Now keeping your lower body firmly placed on the ground, push your upper body up until your arms are fully extended; hold this position for 2-3 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat this movement for the allocated amount of reps specified. The key here is to almost push your chest out in front of you, into a position that resembles a cobra when it is erect and fully upright.
Foam Rolling - For the foam rolling or self myofascial release, you will need first and foremost a foam roller. Secondly, in order to spare your reading the same instructions three times we will be collectively discussing the instructions for this specific set of exercises.
Go ahead and place the roller at the base of your lumbar spine; seated upright and with your legs stretched out in front of you. Cross your arms over your torso or chest and arch over the foam roller. Think of it like doing or attempting to do a backflip; while making sure the roller remains in place against the lower back. Hold this position for about 3 seconds and return to the starting position and repeat this process for the designated amount of sets and reps. As for your thoracic spine, you will repeat the exact same process but instead you will be placing it against your mid back, just below your scapulas (shoulder blades). Go ahead and repeat the movement as instructed.
Now for the Lats - You will need to be lying on your side, doesn’t matter which; go ahead and place the foam roller at the base of your axilla (under arm area). Your arm should be parallel with your body fully extended above your head. Place your upper leg, depending on the side you might by lying on, over your bottom leg with your foot firmly on the ground. Using that leg as leverage, roll or glide your body up and down over the roller; placing special focus on that latissimus dorsi muscle group. Switch positions to the opposite side and repeat the movement as instructed.
Pelvic Tilt and Lift - Lying on your back with your legs bent, place your feet shoulder width apart and firmly on the ground. Tilt your pelvis backward (Imagine pulling up your zipper without using your hands) and hold this position for about a second. While in this position, proceed to lift your back up from the ground until you get your body into a bridge position. Hold this position for at least 5 seconds before you slowly and in a controlled motion (no jerking movements) lower your back down to the starting position. Relax your pelvis for a few seconds and repeat the movement for the allocated amount of reps and sets.
All these exercises might sound difficult and overly complicated but don’t worry, we are including a set of pictures along with the instructions just to make it easier to comprehend. After all, many of us understand things far easier when we can visualize it.
We have decided to bunch these three areas together in this program. Reason being, in my many years of experience with these types of injuries I have come to find that the neck, upper back and shoulders are all interlinked. So much so, that we can be injured in one of these areas and experience pain in a completely different area. For example, many patients have walked into my evaluation room complaining of neck pain and or discomfort; upon further inspection we actually find that the problem is in the upper back/shoulder region. And this problem is causing referred pain to be experienced in the neck. That is why we believe in approaching these types of injuries a bit more holistically and taking a look at the entire area as opposed to just treating the perceived area of pain.
And on that note let’s get straight to it:
Hand over head
3 sets of 30s per side
3 sets of 30s per side
‘Tip the waiter’
3 sets of 30s per side
Now let’s move on and look at the exercises you can do:
Use a small beach ball or rolled up towel
Chin tuck into Rotation
3 sets of 10 rotations per side
Flex & extend
1 full flexion to extension equals 1 rep
Hamstring Wall Angels
Tilt your pelvis; ensure your back is straight
Use a theraband or resistance band
Banded face pulls
Use a theraband or resistance band
Descriptions and Instructions: Stretches
Hand over Head - For this stretch go ahead and stand with your back against a wall, lift your right arm over your head and place your right hand on your left ear. In this position, slowly tug or pull your neck towards the right, you should feel a stretch in the left side of your neck. Hold this position for the time period indicated in your program and slowly return to the starting position. Now repeat this exercise on the opposite side.
Doorway Stretch - Here you will need to stand inside a doorway; lift your right arm up and bend to 90 degrees at the elbow joint. Now place your right arm against the wall that is adjacent to the doorway. Now, while holding this position, push your upper body forward (basically through the doorway) until you feel a stretch along your chest, shoulder and rotator cuff areas. Now rotate your neck by turning your head to the left, you should now feel an additional stretch down the right side of your neck. Hold this position for the allocated amount of time before returning to the starting position. Now switch arms and repeat this movement on the opposite arm.
Chin Tucks - For this exercise you will need a small physical therapy ball or even just a mini beach ball. Standing with your back facing the wall, place the ball against the wall in line with the back of your head, now place the back of your head against the ball holding the ball up with your head only. Now place your middle and index finger, it can be either left or right, on your chin. Using your fingers as a guide with minimal pressure push your head directly back into the ball. It is important not to tilt your head forward or backwards here; instead you really need to focus on pushing directly backwards, holding for a second and then relaxing. The movement will resemble a classic chicken neck going forward and backwards. Repeat this motion for the instructed amount of sets and reps.
Chin Tuck into Rotation - For this exercise you will repeat all the stages of movement that you did with the standard chin tucks. However, at the point where you are pressing your head backward into the ball you will now rotate your head to the right, back to the middle, then to the left and back to the middle again; and then you can return to the starting position. A full cycle through the rotation counts as one repetition.
Flex & Extend - For this exercise you will need a small physical therapy ball or even just a mini beach ball. Standing with your back facing the wall, place the ball against the wall in line with the back of your head, now place the back of your head against the ball holding the ball up with your head only. Now proceed to tilt your head backwards and then bow your head forward; mimicking a “yes and no” gesture. Repeat this movement for the allocated sets and reps.
Wall Angels - Standing with your back against the wall, tilt your pelvis backward to ensure your back remains straight against the wall. Remember the “pulling up the zipper” analogy? Okay, now extend and lift your arms so that it is in line with your shoulders. Flex your elbows at about 65 degrees more or less, placing the back of your hands and arms against the wall. Now glide your arms up, extending your arms straight up, now return your arms back to the starting position and repeat the movement.
Banded Rows - Using a theraband or resistance band that is firmly anchored onto or around something, pull the band towards your body at a controlled tempo, bend your arms at your elbows. The key cue here is to maintain a constant tempo and focus on squeezing (activating) your back muscles and not your shoulder muscles.
Banded Face Pulls - Very similar to banded rows, except for the fact that your arms will be in line with your chin at about shoulder height. Then using the theraband or resistance band, pull it towards your face, bending elbows at 90 degrees. The key cue here is to ensure you don’t drop your elbows below shoulder height and make sure both arms are in line.
Now we know these exercises might sound very complex or complicated, but that is why we are adding such detailed descriptions as well as some pictures for you guys to be able to visualize the movements. All in all, dealing with workplace injuries particularly injuries of the lower back and neck area can be very annoying as it tends to disrupt our lives in a way. But hopefully these suggestions will be able to guide you and provide you with some kind of relief; because pain and work just don’t go together.
The pandemic has significantly affected our physical and mental capacities to do our jobs. Now that isn’t just negative as many have found a new lease on life with the new work from home economy during the past 18 months. But the pandemic has merely highlighted a situation that has been plaguing employees for decades. Workplace injuries are a real concern, and many corporations and employers are starting to see why investing in employee wellness is a crucial step in the right direction. But that doesn’t mitigate from the fact that employees are still getting hurt.
And although there are many primary care physicians, allied health workers and trainers out there, willing help those in need of an intervention. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford this type of help. And that is why we put together the above mentioned template and suggestions as a cost effective option to be able to treat your own condition or be in a position to help the situation of a colleague or a loved one. All in all, the fact remains that working is hard, and you’re going to be doing it for a very long time… So why would you risk your health in the process?
The anatomy of an employee, why do we put ourselves second?
These are anecdotal examples and scenarios, but the fact remains that most of us will be working on average, for about 40 years of our lives. That is a crazy concept when you really think about it. And even more so, the majority of those years will be spent working for someone else. Now I know that with the rise of social media, entrepreneurship has come to the fold with so many people villainizing the idea of being employed. But is it really that terrible? We don’t think so? I mean if everyone in the world were business owners how would business function without employees?
This overly promoted concept is not only illogical it is, at least in my opinion, a little irresponsible. As more and more impressionable young people of this current and the next generation develop an unconscious bias to employment. Meaning that when they do eventually get a job after high school or college, graduate school etc they’re entering this space with a very close mind. This is why more employers are holding onto their seasoned employees for dear life as the incoming workforce has the wrong mindset towards the realities of what a job is; well at least most of them.
And before you jumped down my throat, I know this isn’t true for everyone and I am not saying it is, I know that there are young people who do enjoy the employed lifestyle and end doing a better job in 6 months of being at their new job than the men and women who have been their 20 + years. But this has become the exception, not the norm. 50 years ago, entrepreneurship was a life pursued by those with the temperament for that type of life, granted many of them are super wealthy now having created some of the most successful companies in history. But do you know what most of them credit their success to? Their people. Their team. Their employees.
An employee is a fundamental cog in the working world; so why do we not look after ourselves? The amount of employees that are literally sacrificing their health and well being for a job is a borderline pandemic if you’d ask me. We seem to get caught up in this idealistic view where our entire world, to an extent, revolves around our job and their desires. But the fact remains that, without us, without our presence, our abilities without employees the entire world economy would collapse.
That being said, don’t you think it is time that we start prioritizing our health? The term work life balance gets thrown around so nonchalantly these days; but we don’t have that. At least not us average men and women that make up the bulk of the labor force. We’re still putting in 50 hour weeks trying to “make it happen” but at what cost? What good is the dream promotion you spent the last 3 years working towards if it cost you your ability to move because your lower back is all messed up? What is the point of slaving at a desk for 30 years to make money in exchange for your health and well being, if you’re going to spend the next 30 years using that money to get your health back?
I am not preaching to anyone, nor am I bashing anyone's decisions. I get it, sometimes we don’t have a choice. The late nights, overtime and everything in between is usually for a bigger purpose. Mortgage or rent is due, car payments, insurance, school and college tuition… All of these things factor into why we are overworking ourselves. I know this because I was like that too. Until I spent two weeks in intensive care fighting for my life. After 3 months of recovery I quickly realized that without our health literally nothing else matters. And is the point I am trying to get across to you today because if you can take one thing from this article series and really learn from it, let it be this!
Not the tips and tricks, not the technicalities and all the information, yes those are powerful and very useful but in the greater scheme of things your life trumps your livelihood. Whether you agree or not, that is on you. I on the other hand has really gained perspective, having a work-life balance and really staying true to that notion has quite frankly saved my life. Food for thought, do with that what you may.