WE ASK MICHELE MONTAGNA, PROFESSOR OF ERGONOMICS, PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS AT WORK AND EXPERT IN KINESIOLOGY
Have you ever considered how much time you wear safety shoes during your working day?
At the very least, you wear them for eight hours.
Eight hours, for your feet and your joints, are a long time and the shoes must be of the right protection class for the work you are called to lend. They have to be comfortable, light shoes able to guarantee breathable for extended well-being throughout the day.
There are numerous European regulations to protect safety at work and thanks to Personal Protective Equipment, the worker is protected in the performance of his duties.
We already had the opportunity to talk about the different classes of protection and differences between one standard and another. The right standards of safety are fundamental. However, also the particular positions, often repetitive, we remain still for a long time or always in motion or crouching without being able to change, have a significant influence.
Our body reacts differently according to the repetitive situations to which we submit it and the safety shoes we wear can have an essential influence on our body and our health. They can help us improve our physical condition, increasing the sense of general well-being and health of stressed areas, enhancing our energy and our performance.
If, for example, you find yourself working in an assembly line at the factory, you will spend most of the working day in a static position - sitting or standing - without having to travel a lot and foresee repetitive minor movements.
The lack of movement will lead you to a muscular/articular hardening and a slowing down of the blood circulation.
What’s the result?
Lower back pains, swelling of the legs, heaviness and tiredness of the lower limbs, pain in the joints or the neck.
Do you recognize yourself?
How to intervene to prevent this type of disorder and reduce the inconveniences related to the position taken during work?
We ask a real expert, Dr Michele Montagna!
Hi Michele, welcome back to U-POWER and thank you for your intervention.
Before talking about the problem of choosing safety shoes, I would like to introduce you as merits, so that our readers can get to know you better.
• Doctor of Sports Sciences;
• Kinesiologist recognized by the National Union of Kinesiologists;
• Consultant and Professor of Occupational Ergonomics, Prevention and Treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders at Work;
• Trainer Certificate of Health and Safety at Work.
An excellent training and U-POWER could not have used a better expert!
What are the problems that a labour who works in an assembly line may face?
Thanks for this interesting question.
The labour who works in the factory, in an assembly line, is forced to remain mainly in a static situation, in a sitting position or standing, without making long and medium distances, always performing the same repetitive and not very wide movements.
Over time, the repetitiveness and the static position can create dysfunctions of the locomotor apparatus.
These musculoskeletal disorders can affect workers - in this case, in the factory - and occur in short/medium term, through chronic fatigue of the joints of the feet but which, inevitably trigger ascending reactions up the legs, the spine and even the cervical area.
The effects will be: fatigue, pain, contractures, stiffness and loss of flexibility as well as impaired circulatory function, i.e., reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients to the body, that means difficulty in working effectively and efficiently.
What can those who are subject to this type of situation do? For example, our factory worker to protect himself and to prevent this kind of trouble?
The use of the correct accident prevention devices, the so-called Personal Protection Devices, is fundamental.
The qualities of a safety shoe are fundamental not only because they offer immediate protection, but because they guarantee a job that preserves the general psycho-physical health of workers in the short, medium and long term.
Medium/long term consequences are the most difficult to guess. But, if you are aware of the risk, then you can direct the choice of the work shoe towards the most effective solutions, designed - as well as to protect from accidents - also and above all to regulate the delicate balance of the locomotor apparatus.
We can use our body efficiently only when it is coordinated and in harmony as a whole. Much of our working life conditions, besides if in a subjective way, is influencing free mobility, in the broadest sense.
This conditioning means that, very often, muscular hypertonia, to understand the lack of muscular elasticity and joint mobility, cause of the sense of general rigidity, is determined by a multiplicity of concomitant factors.
Any additional risk factors, such as the use of work shoes not suited to their physical characteristics and the type of work that takes place can amplify these disorders.
Keep in mind that in recent years we are witnessing the progressive increase in the number of complaints of occupational diseases attributable to musculoskeletal disorders. The worker is becoming aware of the importance of risk factors related to occupational diseases resulting from the handling of loads and subject to biomechanical loading. It is clear that beyond the national statistical data, this problem also involves the European Union see also involved the World Health Organization (WHO), which is taking action in this regard.
But then, how do you figure out which safety shoes are best suited to the type of work that takes place? What are the differences between one work shoe and another?
Kinesiology - the study of human movement and biomechanics - analyzes the behaviour of physiological structures in static and dynamic stresses. I adopted kinesiology to conduct specific research comparing an ordinary work shoe and a U-POWER line RED CARPET on static and dynamic tests.
The standard work shoe proved to be rigid, both walking and standing on the spot. The sole, poorly deformable, does not allow fluid plantar support, ending up generating ascending muscle-fascial tensions towards the trunk. Furthermore, the mechanical stress on the ankle joints can be perceived together with a somewhat abnormal physical stress on the spine, which, over time, could show the first signs of dysfunction.
The end of the test, I felt a specific sense of muscle fatigue in my legs - to tell the truth, already from the first minutes of use! - with perceptible suffering of peripheral circulation.
The RED CARPETs, for their part, use a technology that offers the worker a soft but resistant surface, inserted in the inter-sole of the shoes and made with a compound also used for anti-fatigue mats.
Its use allows it to absorb and disperse the compressive stress on the joints and cartilage, thanks to the higher and more effective distribution of the loads.
Can you explain me better? What is it that makes U-POWER RED CARPETs different from standard work shoes?
I'll answer you with an example. What happens if you try to balance on one foot?
You will concentrate the whole body on a single limb and the relative joints, with attached cartilages, will be subjected to higher crushing than to bi-podalic support. Moreover, muscles supporting the weight of the body will have to contract to a greater extent to assist this commitment. Therefore, will tend to become, with the passing of days, increasingly hard and contracted, an obstacle to circulation, also subjecting the column vertebral to a series of postural adaptations that will provoke an increase of its rigidity.
Well, this is it when the footing is not supported by a surface that dilutes and dissipates - as RED CARPET does - stress in a broader surface rather than on limited areas.
RED CARPET distributes the weight of the wearer, reducing the load factor on every square centimetre of the plant with a somewhat providential improvement and optimization of the functionality of the entire organism.
In essence, you're telling me that this technology can absorb body stress and improve the general condition of the wearer, I understand correctly?
During the use of RED CARPET, viscoelastic response reactions of the myo-fascia are activated, starting from the feet, due to a series of sensory information (Editor's note: connective sheath that envelops muscles, tendons, bands and ligaments, with the function of support and circulatory) able to:
• Improve muscle contraction and relaxation phases;
• Reduce the incidence of night and daytime cramps;
• Stimulate and improve circulation;
• Reduce the burden on the legs;
• Reduce tiredness and fatigue;
• Facilitate work;
• Increase concentration;
• Improve productivity;
• Reduce the formation of cortisol - the stress hormone that causes the imbalance on the body's homeostasis - thus strengthening the immune system.
So, to answer your question, yes: the application of RED CARPET technology can unconsciously awaken our body with perceptible effects on health, well-being and vitality.
And what about the tread?
The differences are related to the technologies used and the quality of the materials. In particular, I refer to the insert in Infinergy® by BASF and the high-grip tread.
The tread - which is not the sole! - it is the part of the shoe that rests directly on the ground (Editor’s Note: the sole is the part on which the arch of the food rests and, more precisely, the front part distinct from the heel).
Imagine you find yourselves working on a highly slippery surface: how would you behave?
Instinctively, you would be driven to slow down the pace and movements, but without the certainty of a tread guaranteeing a safe grip. Furthermore, our body would tend to stiffen to recruit as many muscles as possible in unison, to be ready and responsive in case of slipping and loss of balance.
The U-POWER RED CARPETs use a high-grip tread of 0.60. And this reduces the risk factors of injury, allowing maximum safety of movements on the most insidious plans both during static activity and during the dynamic one.
From a health prevention point of view, perceiving the adherence of one's work shoe with relative grip allows to reduce muscle-tension stress, that is the tension due to the fear of a ruinous fall.
Furthermore, a tread with high grip and sharp angles makes it possible to lighten the tread, reducing the use of energy needed for displacement and movement, to the advantage of stronger safety, less energy and less muscle-joint tension over time.
Michele, how can we help our readers understand which U-POWER safety shoe is best suited to their needs?
It is necessary to analyze the personal case, to figure out which is the best one for you. Therefore, the only system is to provide specific consultancy and for this U-POWER, has prepared a small step questionnaire in which different job cases, conditions of use, etc. are offered. Responding to which, I'm going to be able to provide the most appropriate advice. Of course, it is an entirely free consultancy, offered by U-POWER to its readers and, of course, the data provided are entirely subject to privacy.
The reply is going to be provided directly by e-mail to the post office box indicated.
In this way, we guarantee confidentiality and safeguard.
Michele, how much valuable information ... Thanks for sharing it with us!
And you, dear reader, don't miss this fantastic opportunity!
Fill out the form and find out which U-POWER work shoes are best suited to your needs!
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