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Students or those currently working as x-ray techs know that the job is mentally rewarding, and physically challenging. You are on your feet all day, moving equipment, and even helping patients maneuver onto or around the machines. It is important to take care of yourself first so that you are able to take the absolute best care of every patient that sees you.
By stretching and using these ergonomic tips, you are shaping your work environment to fit your body’s needs. When your body is happy, you are more likely to be happy as well, and overall perform better as an x-ray tech.
Stretching is a quick an easy way to regain energy and keep your muscles loose. It increases blood-flow in your body, which significantly decreases the likelihood of you straining or injuring yourself while working. Each of the following stretches should be done to your comfort level. Listen to your body, and remember that the goal of these stretching exercises is to keep you feeling good at work.
- Stretch your thighs while you’re standing by straightening your posture, and placing your hand on a steady surface for balance. While keeping your back straight, bend one knee, and grab your ankle so that the back of your heel is facing your back. As you gently bring your ankle closer to the back of your body, remember to keep your knees parallel to each other and to breathe. It is best if you do each leg for the same amount of time, and you can hold this stretch anywhere between 10-30 seconds.
- This one is as easy as turning your head! It sounds simple because it is, and we often forget that it is a great way to relieve neck tension. Keep your shoulders down and back, and keep your chin parallel to the floor as you turn your head over one shoulder. You can hold this for 10-30 seconds, then slowly bring your head back to center, and repeat on the other side for the same length of time.
- You may be surprised by how much stress you carry in your chest and shoulders, and how good it feels to stretch and relax those areas. Start by interlacing your fingers behind your back, then roll your shoulders back while pushing your chest out, and raising your head. Feel free to hold this pose until you feel sufficiently relaxed and “stretched out.”
Ergonomics is the study of people at work. The goal of ergonomics is to help people work safely, efficiently, and comfortably. Every x-ray tech must perform similar tasks each day at work, yet not every x-ray tech has the same body type. Taller people may find themselves hunching more at work, while shorter people are constantly reaching and standing on their tip-toes. These tips are designed to help prevent work-related physical discomfort by allowing you mold your work space to your body.
- If you need to lift a patient onto the x-ray or MRI table, do not hesitate to ask for help. Even if you can lift the patient on your own, getting someone to help you places less strain on your back. If the hospital you work at has a patient-lifting machine, use it, and your back will thank you.
- Adjust your workplace to fit your height. As we mentioned earlier, a taller person may find themselves hunching or bending over to be closer to the patient or the machinery. If this sounds like you, see if you can find (or are allowed to bring in) a stool or chair that places you at a more even height with the patient or x-ray/MRI table. Conversely if you happen to be shorter, see if there is a step stool that you can use. If your arm is raised for even minutes at a time while performing a task, bring in a yoga block or stack several folded sheets to rest your arm on to take some of the stress off of your neck and shoulders.
- Be aware of your posture. This may be one of the more difficult, but definitely the most important, ergonomic tip that you can use to improve your work life. Whether you are standing, sitting, lifting, or bending, try to keep your back straight, and your shoulders down, back, and relaxed. If you tend to have poor posture, doing this may feel strange at first. Be sure to keep at, and you will see the difference in how your body feels in virtually no time at all.
The movements that you do repeatedly each day really start to add to the tension in your body. Since you want to be able to help the patients you see to the best of your ability, it is important for you to feel as good as possible. Stretching and conforming your workplace to suit you, helps you become more efficient, and feel physically comfortable. Following through on these tips allow you to be the best x-ray tech you can possibly be.