How to care for your back and wrists as a warehouse worker?

How to care for your back and wrists as a warehouse worker?

In any physical job there are times when aches and pains start to appear but this is especially true for warehouse workers due to the working environment and the nature of the job.

Most of the time we put these aches and pains down to tiredness or just part and parcel of the job, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can do to protect yourself from physical strains and it is not just about learning the correct lifting procedures for moving heavy or large objects. 

While following the correct lifting and moving procedures for the load is the first most important observation when you are at work, no matter how careful you are, sometimes the general pressure on your body from everyday repetitive movements can lead to discomfort and fatigue. 

For warehouse workers the most common areas of discomfort are the back and wrist joints and as these are areas that are heavily relied upon to carry out the daily tasks, aches that are ignored can become much more painful over time resulting in the need to take time off work to rest and recover.

For most of us, time off work is a luxury we cannot afford so taking care of yourself and ensuring you are protecting your joints from overuse and strain should be your primary concern.

Protecting your back

Back pain does not always derive from a poor lifting technique but often from instability in the muscles that surround your spine. By strengthening these muscles, you greatly reduce the likelihood of causing yourself an injury. 

Prevention is better than cure so taking part in an exercise that works on strengthening your core muscles such as Yoga, Pilates, and Swimming will greatly assist you in ensuring you are providing the best possible natural support for your spine when carrying out your daily duties.

A holistic approach to back care would be to apply heat and find a willing assistant to massage your back. Alternatively, soaking in a bath infused with an essential oil such as lavender or rosemary will help to relax your muscles after a long shift. 

Additional support can come from back braces that are usually worn over your uniform for the most comfortable fit. These braces can not only reduce pain from occurring but can also in some cases provide pain relief and increased mobility. When choosing a back brace, choose breathable fabrics like cotton or “performance” textiles and ensure you position your back brace correctly as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If in doubt, you could ask your GP to recommend a brace and instruct you on the correct placement. 

Protecting your wrists

Repetitive activities can put a huge amount of strain on your wrists. Wrists may not be the first area that springs to mind when thinking about protecting your joints, but pain in this area can be one of the most frustrating pains to endure. 

Your wrists are made up of a complicated collection of joints that are responsible for backwards, forwards and side-to-side movements of the hand and without thinking about it, we use our hands and wrists for pretty much everything, so when everything you do inflames the dull ache it can become extremely annoying and tiring to live with. 

Working on your grip can have a surprising beneficial effect on your wrists. The more your hands can assist your wrists in the work that needs to be done, the less strain is inflicted on your wrist joints and forearms. Work to improve your crush (force of closing your hand into a fist) and pinch strength (the force of your fingers pressing against your thumb), a cheap and easy way to do this is by squeezing a stress ball or a tennis ball. 

A holistic approach to joint care would be to apply heat to the area after your shift perhaps when relaxing at home, either using warm towels or heat packs. This is especially beneficial when used alongside an essential oil such as peppermint (in a carrier oil) massaged into the area. 

An excellent way to protect your wrists from a strain or a slowly developing repetitive injury is by using a wrist support. Supports work to keep your joints in a neutral position, reducing overexertion and the associated inflammation that can occur from repetitive movements.

Occupational wrist supports can come in many different forms and it is important that you find and select the most comfortable fit for you and that you stick to a regular support wearing regime to maximise the benefits. Another good tip is to buy two pairs, as wrist supports are fabric they will be machine washable (without and splints inserted) and so by having two pairs you can wear one while one washes. 

Ensuring you are comfortable while carrying out your duties has a big influence on how much you can enjoy your job and the effort you can put into carrying out your tasks, so invest in your mobility, strength and general wellbeing by including some joint care and strain prevention in your day.

If you find that no matter what you do, a job as a warehouse operative is not ideal for you due to your range of movement and mobility, don’t give up, consider applying your knowledge and skills to another warehouse role. 

There are many different roles available in a warehouse so if you are thinking of taking a step up, or a step across then why not check out our job pages to see all of the latest warehouse jobs available.