Daily Archives: December 12, 2011

The Positive Power of Hand Stretching and Hydration

Handstretching_Dec2011_webKeeping your hands safe is very important. We’ve talked about the benefits of wearing gloves and the importance of staying focused when using your hands, but those safety tips are geared more towards workers who operate equipment that can be potentially hazardous if used improperly. There are many who use their hands on a regular basis, but never really put them in obvious danger. Even though you may not be working with heavy machinery or powerful tools, not caring for your hands can still lead to complications down the road.

Dangers like Carpel Tunnel Syndrome happen more often at work than you think. Injuries from repetitive and strenuous activity affect more than 400,000 workers each year. Even if you think your job is quiet and at little risk, follow these simple tips to help protect and prevent your hands from injuries that can happen at even the safest jobs.

Stretch for Safety

In 2002, copper wire manufacturer Rea Magnet Wire learned that 6.4% of its employees experienced hand strains and sprains that year. Worried by the high injury rate, the company adopted changes, which included a stretching program. The program provided employees with a series of stretching exercises for their upper extremities.

Stretching allows the blood supply to reach working muscles and allow any acid buildup to be carried away. It's the buildup of acids that result in inflammation that can cause long term hand injuries. Consider taking five to 10 minutes every hour to not only stand up, but to also stretch your hands and forearm to keep blood flowing and limbs nimble. There are several resources on ways you can stretch your hands and arms. You can even do them in the comfort of your own office. Throughout the day, vary your job duties so you can take a break from your keyboard or station. A few small, easy changes to your day can have big benefits in the long run. 

Hydrate Those Hands

When looking at the data of the yearly injury report, Rea Magnet Wire noticed the number of injuries spiked during the summer months. In order to help workers' body temperature remain cool, the company made water and Gatorade accessible to employees. When working in hot temperatures, a person's blood supply is taken away from normal working condition and instead is brought to the skin to help produce sweat, meaning muscles don't receive the blood supply they need to reduce acid buildup.

There are simple ways you can stay hydrated while on the job. Consider drinking water out of a smaller mug or cup when at your office. This has a double benefit because it will make you get up from your work station, which will keep your body moving and blood circulating more. To change things up, eat some fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Fruits contain higher water content than most foods, which make them a great option for helping keep hydration levels up.

By 2007, Rea Magnet Wire had drastically reduced its hand injury rate to .1%. Because of simple behavioral changes, one company was able to help keep its employees safer, which allowed them to continue to work and enjoy their off-work activities. You can enjoy the same benefits by finding the time to stretch and stay hydrated for happier, healthier hands.