Avoid Working with Arms Raised above your Head to Prevent Shoulder Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries and Bursitis are shoulder injuries that result from overworking the muscles, especially when working with your arms raised above head level. During one of my past experiences we were running two field pilot projects in different parts of the world. Two people, one in each location, experienced torn rotator cuff injuries during the same month while using a wrench with arms raised above head level. Both were healthy individuals who exercised regularly and no previous history of shoulder injury. Both employees required surgery and light duty, with Physical Therapy, for several months.
As discussed, in a CDC report on Workplace injuries studies have shown that shoulder injuries are usually linked to working overhead with repetitive motion, because this excessive leverage applied to the ligaments and tendons that connect arm muscles to the shoulder.
Before completing a task that requires access to items that overhead:
- Plan to use of a ladder, scaffold or platform to avoid reaching overhead.
- Discuss the which tools could be used to reduce stress on the shoulder and repetitive motion.
- Take breaks periodically and stretch and reduce muscle tightness around the shoulders and neck.
A NIOSH review of studies found that the risk of developing shoulder pain or a shoulder muscle or joint disorder is increased by the combination of frequently working with raised shoulders (60° or more), using repetitive arm or shoulder movements while in this position, and applying force while in this position.