Switch to a staggered stance for back, shoulder health
Sioux City, IA - By Erik Nieuwenhuis MS, PT St. Luke’s Health System WorkSmart Ergonomics Injury Prevention Specialist and Wellness Consultant 712-279-1842 Nieuween@stlukes.org
How many of you have children, and love to pick them up after a hard day’s work to give them a hug? Have you ever noticed how this can melt away your stress and improve your attitude? Personally, my own daughters—Abbigail and Maelynne—help alleviate my stress level as they greet me at the door when I return from work each day.
Unfortunately, picking up your children can be a challenge if you’ve ever suffered a lower back or shoulder injury. These injuries affect the way you are able to perform your daily lifestyle tasks at work, home and play. Your sleep can be affected as can your ability to sit and drive or work at your desk by a back or shoulder injury.
I’d like to educate you on the importance of “switching” your daily work and posture habits so you use a staggered stance. Staggered stance, an athletic ready posture, means having one foot in front of the other instead of having your feet shoulder width or narrower apart and with your feet directly across from each other. With a staggered stance, your body is in an athletic ready posture (think your favorite sport), allowing you to reach and move in any direction quickly and safely. Your balance and stability will improve with the staggered stance and protect your lower back and shoulders from injury. In addition, it will help you find further enjoyment in your daily activities and allow you to safely pick up your children for a big hug at the end of your workday.
A WorkSmart staggered stance can benefit your lower back and shoulders from injury in three ways:
1) When you stand in a staggered stance, your balance significantly improves. When your balance improves, you have reduced biomechanical “wear and tear” and forces to your lower back and shoulders. Have you every lifted a box that was stored in your garage or closet and something in the box shifted and pulled you off balance? This posture will help prevent a loss of balance from occurring.
2) The staggered stance posture forces your legs, hips and calves to increase their workload thus sharing the load between more muscle groups. This helps to reduce the load and awkward forces to your lower back and shoulders. The more muscles, body parts and joints you have helping in any task, the less stressful and forceful the task is. More help equals less work for all body parts involved. The staggered stance posture will allow you to lift groceries out of the trunk of your car or get your infant and young children into and out of their car seats with much less stress and force to your lower back and shoulders.
3) The staggered stance posture significantly reduces any rotational forces to your lower back and shoulders, by making most of the rotational forces transfer through your hips and not your lower back. It can also benefit you greatly when competing in any sport activity such as running a 100 meter dash, throwing a ball from the outfield to second base, having more power to swing a bat in softball or baseball…the list goes on. The staggered stance allows multiple parts of your body to share a load, meaning you have less force, stress or risks for sprain and strain injuries.
I challenge you, your spouse, co-workers and friends to use a staggered stance when picking up your children, putting groceries into the trunk of your car, lifting at work and picking up toys. Your body will thank you!
1) Switch “How to Change Things, When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath http://heathbrothers.com
2) Attending four Gray Institute “Chain Reaction” courses from 99’ to 07’ led by Gary Gray PT, FAFS and Watching the Functional Video Digest Series and Fast Function DVD’s for continuing education from 99’ to 11’ www.grayinstitute.com
3) My career as a Physical Therapist at St. Luke’s for the past 14 years working with over 100 company’s, and specializing in WorkSmart Ergonomics Injury Prevention and Wellness for your working, aging body.
# # #
About St. Luke’s:
St. Luke's Regional Medical Center is a community hospital serving the tri-state Siouxland area. Our focus is - and will always be - patient-centered care to improve the health of the people of Siouxland. With 1,200 employees and nearly 85,000 patients cared for annually, St. Luke’s is an anchor of support for the Siouxland community.
St. Luke's offers full-service healthcare with a range of inpatient and outpatient services, specialty and family healthcare clinics, and healthcare screenings and community benefit programs. St. Luke's is also planning for the future of healthcare through its affiliation with St. Luke’s College. With a strong focus on safety and quality, St. Luke’s has built a long-standing reputation of improving lives through advanced treatment and health education.
For more information, visit www.stlukes.org.