Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

July 1, 2013

Pilots, Bartenders and Boeing Workers

In the span of two days this past week I heard three stories. Look for the connecting thread.

First, it was a Navy Pilot who accidentally stepped through an unsecured hatch and fell. No telling yet how bad he got hurt, he hasn’t made it into the office yet, and the Navy will have to do their thing first.

Then it was a Boeing worker who stepped off a stand onto the wing of a plane. Actually, she stepped onto a pad that was on a pad. (The top pad wasn’t unusual; the bottom pad was a new type.) Her hands were full with a tray of tools. When her foot landed the top pad it slipped on the bottom pad and she fell, doing the splits and twisting hard. With immediate neck and back pain, she worked the remaining several hours of her shift. Being a patient she knew to use ice and she was already scheduled to be in the office the following day, so we’ll make sure that this incident doesn’t develop into something bigger (probably, it’s too early to tell).

The third story was a new patient with severe lower back pain brought on when he and another person were carrying a 20 foot long, foot thick, beam (think very heavy). The guy at the other end dropped his end and the patient held on to his, you can imagine the rest. A five foot six, one hundred and sixty pound, bartender, this lift was a stretch even without the other guy dropping his end.

The theme running through all three incidents is this: In each case there was someone else involved. Someone was supposed to mark the hatch so that anyone trying to use it would know that there was an issue; someone put one pad on top of the other pad – it wasn’t really supposed to be that way (and the new pad was new, so maybe no one knew how slick it was going to be). And, of course, there is a lot of trust involved when carrying something heavy and there is another person holding one end.

Your safety always starts with awareness. That usually has to be taught, and hopefully not just by experience (an often unforgiving teacher). Think vacuuming, getting something in/out of the oven, doing dishes, the laundry, washing your car, using a shovel, a rake, or a golf club. Here the issue is bending. Are you mindful of your bending at these moments? Check in. If you know that you know you are bending properly in each and every case, then you likely bend correctly by habit. If not, then you may be bending incorrectly by habit. That could cost you. The solution is simple.

Postscript

Actually, there were four stories in two days. There was also a new patient who injured his lower back vacuuming his car out after working a long hard day lifting glass and mirrors (It was Friday, so think fatigue!). A quick check revealed that his lifting technique was far from ideal. With many years of heavy, awkward and frequent lifting at this job, his poor lifting technique is now catching up with him. Remember that joint cartilage does not have pain fibers so you can be destroying that cartilage with poor body mechanics for years (decades even) without knowing it. Once you learn to lift correctly it will feel much different and you will not want to go back to doing it the risky way. Watching a video won’t do it. Telling you to lift with your legs and not your back won’t do it. Someone needs to teach you and you need to feel it. Then you will have it for good.

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