Workplace Wellness: The Importance of Listening to Your Body

Nearly all athletes or fitness enthusiasts have experienced soreness after an intense workout. This usually occurs when we change our workout routine and challenge ourselves in different manner, and though we often feel this is a sign that we’ve pushed ourselves to improvement, sometimes this soreness is a signal that we are actually injured.

This same process also applies to individuals who have physically taxing occupations. Workers who perform the same basic tasks for a period of time develop a level of fitness for that activity that allows them to work without experiencing pain. However, if that same individual moves to another task that involves a different physiological challenge, he or she may experience discomfort. So how do we differentiate between soreness and injury?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), an injury is usually accompanied by a sharp pain, whereas soreness tends to manifest itself in feeling more of a dull pain, stiffness, or a tight sensation. Soreness usually affects a muscle group or area that feels tender or tired. If a person is injured, he or she will usually experience sharp or deep pains, also accompanied by swelling.

Soreness will usually be at its highest levels 24 to 48 hours after completing a task, and can often vary due to the physical condition of the individual, their hydration levels, or sometimes age. If you can ease into work when you’re sore and feel better as your muscles warm up, there is a good chance that it is just soreness. In this situation, you may be able to just change the kind of activity you are doing until you recover.

It’s important to discuss situations that arise with your supervisor or safety personnel to see if alternative tasks are available. If your pain doesn’t go away as you ease back into activity or get better with rest or light activity, be sure to stop what you are doing, as you could be injured.

At Faith Technologies, communication is vital in the process of keeping our employees healthy. Often times we can avoid injury by discussing and addressing tasks or situations which are causing physical stress. Employees in our Excellerate premanufacturing facility, for example, recently noticed that reaching over flat-lying panels to land wires was causing fatigue in their backs and shoulders. They were able to modify the tables so the panels were tipped toward them to allow for easier access, which resolved the issue.

We encourage employees to always report issues they’re experiencing to supervisors and safety personnel immediately, so decisions can be made and proper courses of action taken. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and work to improve your fitness levels to accommodate the activity level required to do your job effectively.