Career-Related Mobility Issues and How to Address Them
Is recurring back pain, foot aches, neck problems, and other body discomforts impacting your productivity at work? Do you sometimes find it difficult to get up from your desk, move, or walk from one job site to the next?
You might chalk this up to tiredness or fatigue because of a busy work schedule or getting older, however, these common aches and pains aren’t entirely an age issue. Common injuries which affect your ability to sit or stand effectively impact your mobility. Around 13% of U.S. adults report experiencing mobility issues, many of whom still remain in the workforce.
Managing Common Work-Related Injury Affecting Mobility
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The nature of your work can contribute to the development of certain body ailments. For example, people who have to be on their feet for hours at a time like teachers and nurses can develop foot problems. Manual laborers like baggage handlers or warehouse workers also do a range of heavy lifting that can stress the back and shoulders.
For foot conditions like plantar fasciitis or metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain), you can wear insoles with arch and heel supports in your shoes throughout the day for extra cushioning. It’s also recommended that you rest your feet every few hours to relieve tension and promote circulation.
Back pain is the most common job-related disability that often leads to people taking days off from work because it affects their mobility. The condition can:
Develop over time due to a poor sitting position in front of the work desk.
Develop due to wear and tear of the spine because of repetitive activities at work.
Develop as a sudden and sharp pain after lifting a heavy item, taking a misstep, or experiencing an accident at work.
Depending on the cause, lower back pain can resolve itself after a few days of rest or after taking pain medication; but it can also persist for weeks or occur over and over. If you have persistent back pain, modify your posture habits at work with these quick tips:
Always be aware of your posture. Avoid slouching when you’re typing away on your desk and switch to a chair that can be adjusted and offers great spinal curve support. Place computer monitors at eye level too.
Modify tasks that are repetitive. For example, cradling the phone between your head and shoulder during call after call can lead to neck tension and stiffness. Use a headset or speakerphone instead.
Use your work breaks for stretching and walking. A few minutes of walking around your office will help boost circulation and relieve tense muscles after prolonged sitting. Getting up and moving every few minutes at work also reduces lower limb fatigue that causes back pain.
Practice care when you lift. If your job involves a lot of carrying or lifting, then also mind your position when performing these activities. Lower your legs to a squat when you have to pick up items on the ground and keep whatever you’re carrying close to your body so that you won’t accidentally twist your back. Use proper equipment for lifting heavier items.
Importance of Getting a Doctor’s Diagnosis of Mobility Issues
In more serious cases that affect your mobility, see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and advice on what you can do to relieve the condition. A doctor’s diagnosis and medical certification will also help when you have to discuss your mobility problems with your boss.
The company is actually compelled to make reasonable modifications and adjustments to your tasks or work environment that matter to your productivity and contribution as an employee based on the regulations outlined in the American With Disabilities Act.
When You’re Medically Required to Take Time Off Due to Mobility Problems
Nobody wants to miss work due to an injury like a pulled back or chronic foot pain. Not only does it impact your productivity and self-esteem, but your bank account can take a hit too if you run out of sick days or have to take an extended leave.
If you do have to take time off from work, how will that affect your job standing? In a great company, sick leave due to mobility problems might even be encouraged to give you the time you need to recover, especially if you’re under strict doctor’s orders.
You can also arrange to work from home, depending on your doctor’s clearance. Telecommuting (working remotely) is becoming more and more common in the U.S. workforce; in fact, 40% more companies in the U.S. offer these type of flexible work options than did 5 years ago. It’s easy to stay in contact and communicate with your team when working remotely thanks to helpful tools like Slack, Skype, and Trello.