Physical Maintenance for the Metalworker
©  Les Hubert


For the average man and woman out there, posture may not need to be a major concern.  But for the Metalworker who is diligently working away at their art and or craft, posture can and should be a real priority.  Long hours of bending over an anvil or sitting can take their toll.

With the help of my friend Jeff Herman, I've been able to see first hand what is involved in this type of work and I hope to convey some helpful tips to make your lives and backs a little less stressful.

What immediately comes to mind is the beating the back takes with the bending forward that's involved. The neck, upper, mid and even the lower back can become greatly stressed and muscles over worked by this continuous posture. 

Firstly, it's important to take regular breaks while working. Sometimes I'm sure, one can get overly involved in a project and before you know it, hours have passed and you're feeling sore and fatigued.  The question is what to do on your break that will help you?

The following instructions can help those suffering from sciatica. It will improve posture, strengthen spine, arms and wrists, stretches chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen, firms buttocks, stimulates abdominal organs, helps reduce fatigue, and therapeutic for asthma.

Contraindications and Cautions!
Those individuals suffering from back injuries, carpal tunnel, headaches, and pregnancy should avoid performing the following exercises.

1. Get up from your workstation and move. Shake out your limbs and walk around and maybe even get a cup of coffee or tea or whatever beverage suits you. Get that blood flowing! 

2. Pretend you just got out of bed and streeeeeeeetch. Lean back, look up at the ceiling, raise your arms above your head and act as if you just woke up and you're stretching to greet the new day.

3. Try to do this at least once an hour. If you experience any pain anywhere, please stop. A "good hurt" is acceptable. You might hear a snap or a pop coming from joints. These are normal sounds and are caused by joints de-stressing and tendons relaxing. Unless you experience pain afterwards, don't worry about it.

4. You might want to have a timer nearby or wear one on your belt as a gentle reminder to take that all-important break.

When one is sitting for long periods of time, the thoracic spine can become stressed. Our spines, with the help of our lower limbs, were meant to support us. When you take the legs out of the equation, your back has to work a lot harder to support itself. It can become compressed, thus putting pressure on the discs and nerves. 

The following is an easy yoga posture I hope will prove helpful to you.

If done every morning and evening, you should notice immediate improvement in your posture and how your back feels overall.

Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor.

Inhale and press your inner hands firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward along the floor. Then straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward.

Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don't harden the buttocks.

Firm the shoulder blades against the back and puff the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Look straight ahead or tip the head back slightly, but take care not to compress the back of the neck and harden the throat.

Make sure the wrists feel comfortable and are not overloaded.

Les Hubert, a Massage Therapist for 20 years, graduated from the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in 1989. He took advanced studies at the Cambridge Muscular Therapy Institute and is constantly involved in continuing education. Les practices at Michael K. Galvin Salon & Gel Essentialz, 481 Pontiac Ave., Cranston, RI 02910, 401/941-3250, E-mail. SAS members receive a 10% discount on their first visit to the salon.

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