Being in the food industry is hard enough –  people are barking orders (and sometimes insults) at you from all angles, you are trying to keep foamy drinks balanced on a tiny piece of fiberglass and you are trying to avoid a slip and fall ALL at the same time.  As if that weren’t enough, your feet feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to them REPEATEDLY at the end of each shift.  While waiting tables is not for the faint of heart for its own reasons (like a few I just mentioned), there are other dangers that lurk about and affect many of those in the food industry.  It is for that reason that I have decided to write this article to help those whole may ail from working as a waitress or waiter.

Stretch

When you are constantly using your hands to take orders, lift trays and carry tubs of dirty dishes, your wrists become your life source.  However, with all that constant and repetitive usage, the muscles in your forearms responsible for making a fist can become tight.  When they get too tight, they can develop trigger points and become painful.  Regular stretching of the wrist flexors with an extended elbow is a great way to prevent those wrists from hurting so you can push through and do a double without a second thought.

Keep it close

Waiting tables means you are constantly carrying something: a dirty dish, a whole boat of sushi or a giant tub of dirty dinnerware.  Keeping those variable and sometimes heavy forces away from your body while you hump it to and from the kitchen can cause undue stress on your low back.  That is why your back aches at the end of each shift.  The good news is there is something you can do about it –  keep the weight of the items you are carrying close to your body.  This reduces the stress on your back and helps prevent back aches and soreness. And if it all possible, reduce the amount of weight being carried in the first place.

Switch sides

Because most of us are one side dominant, that side tends to get A LOT of work while the other side gets relatively little.  This can lead to repetitive stress injuries.  Many people I have treated have had this kind of injury because they operate like they only have one arm instead of two.  While it probably doesn’t make sense to lift a tray of full glasses overhead with your non-dominant side, it does make sense to give the dominant arm a rest whenever possible and let the other do some work.  This will decrease your chance of developing a nagging injury that won’t seem to go away.

While these strategies seem simple, and they are, they can have a powerful impact on your health while waiting tables.  You have enough to worry about already so don’t add health issues to that ever expanding list.  Use these simple techniques to keep your body limber, strong and capable.  If you work in a different profession but deal with or see lots of similar injuries, send me an email at doc@thatstheknot.com and I will write about it.  Cheers!

Dr. Christian Robertozzi

Author Dr. Christian Robertozzi

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