How sanitation, heating and air conditioning experts can stay fit
Stuttgart – Bending, kneeling, twisting – tradespeople put a lot of strain on their bodies every single day. HANSA collaborates with medical experts to make plumbers' lives easier, not just with innovative product solutions, but with further added value. The key question is, how can we ensure that tradespeople stay well? In an interview, Dr Adrian Busen tells us how stress and forced postures can be prevented, which measures are useful, and what chiropractors can do.
What does the term “well-being” actually mean?
It means feeling good, mentally and physically, in whatever we do every day, be it leisure or work.
Is it a good idea to look at body and mind as a single entity in our job?
It is a good idea, but not very practical. The only way for me to gain enough energy is if I face regular physical and mental challenges and do not have to repeat the same processes at work every day. After work, your battery should be run right down.
But this is often difficult in practice. If a two-metre-tall plumber who is also involved in customer service pops in to see me, I cannot tell him that he needs to end each day with 30 minutes of back exercises. All he wants to do when he gets home is have something quick to eat and lie down – understandably. In the morning, body (shattered) and mind (dreading dashing from customer to customer on the congested streets and kneeling for hours in uncomfortable positions under basins) are completely out of kilter. All I can do is release the pressure on his back, prescribe some painkillers and wish him all the best.
As you mentioned, plumbers and HVAC technicians have a back-breaking job. Time pressure, excessive work, changing locations, difficult-to-reach areas – exhausting! How can I spot stress and what are the consequences?
Every individual feels stress differently. One the one hand, each person can cope with a different level of stress. On the other, we filter stress through our bodies differently. It has a huge range of symptoms, from top to bottom: headaches, eye twitches, anxiety, muscle tension, digestive problems and even heavy feet. You have to know yourself very well to pinpoint the stress – and you have to admit it, or talk about it and reflect on it with your doctor. Long-term stress is extremely damaging, because it tightens a psychosomatic screw that eventually becomes very difficult to loosen again. A stomach ulcer caused by stress is not noticeably different from one caused by other factors.
Plumbers spend a lot of time working in uncomfortable positions (forced postures). What happens to my body when I do this? How can I stay physically fit despite it?
A forced posture or very repetitive movements often cause muscle tension and excessive strain on the musculoskeletal system. The locomotor system stops working as it should. Avoiding these movements, which are often wrong but are essential to the work, appears almost hopeless. If I crouch under the basin with a head torch, of course I notice it afterwards. That is why I always tell my patients that their problems are usually a logical consequence of the movements they make. So, make conscious movements, take short breaks, and eat and drink enough.
The most important factor in staying physically fit is to undertake some kind of sporting activity outside work to stabilise the body. Understandably, this is a real challenge for most people. What exactly this activity should be for the various trades is a question to discuss with a doctor or physiotherapist.
Bending, lifting, kneeling, crouching, twisting – how should I do this and what do I need to be aware of?
As a general rule, every movement should involve the entire body, not just a small part. This can also be learned through chiropractic treatment. The specialist term for this is a stereotypic movement. It is incredible how many muscles are triggered by the nervous system just to make the simplest movement!
Standing, kneeling or crouching for long periods – how can I prevent strain?
Bending is a good start (laughs). And stretching every so often. Always put the same load on the opposite muscle. If we are working in a bent posture, we need to stretch and release the pressure now and again. Just like on a long journey: have a walk around occasionally, rock from your heels to your toes. Always keep the blood pumping around the muscles in your legs. After work, put your feet up and massage your legs. Using knee protectors when kneeling is definitely recommended. At the weekend, why not visit a sauna and plunge pool – or take alternating hot and cold showers at home.
So warm and cold water therapy can support physical generation and prevention?
Exactly, showering alternately in cold and warm water really does help. It gives the vegetative nervous system and thus the entire vascular system a varied input and helps the body to regulate its circulation. And the best thing about it is that we can use the cold/warm water therapy in our own bathrooms whenever we want.
Are there any other exercises I can do when I have a minute to reduce the strain on my entire body?
Hanging from a bar, for example in a door frame, is very good. Shouting, singing or laughing loudly all help, too. Of course, that might be difficult in some situations and depends on your colleagues, but if it is possible, it is a great form of release.
What does a healthy lifestyle look like in the context of a work-life balance?
One thing is always underestimated: we should fill our free time with activities that distract us from our work. In an ideal world, when we are driving to work in the pitch black at 6 am on a Monday, we should be able to say, “What a great weekend – it was fulfilling and added value to my everyday life. Now I am ready to face anything!” But that is setting the bar very high (laughs).
With which pains should I see a doctor or chiropractor? How can the therapy help?
If the body cannot rectify a severe block or muscle tension itself, say within 72 hours, you should go to a chiropractor. He can usually improve the function straight away and give advice on follow-up treatment. Pain relief or a muscle-relaxing treatment might be needed in the short term.
About Dr Adrian Busen
Dr Adrian Busen is a general practitioner in the Dr. Münster practice in Münster, Westphalia. His focus is on preventative medicine and promoting health. Dr Busen works in the field of chiropractics, focusing on atlas therapy (atlasReflexTh.®), and is also a dietician and (DAEM/DGEM® and expert in travel medicine (CRM).