Loggers and Knee Pain
By Brie Weisman, Occupational Therapist with Maine LogAbility
Knee pain is the second most common musculoskeletal complaint in the logging industry, after back pain. The knee is regularly put under stress. Just walking on level ground produces force on the knee of 1.5 times your own body weight. Over time, wear and tear on knees is inevitable in a physically active career. Working on uneven, steep terrain that is often slick with snow, ice, or mud; having to repeatedly climb in and out of equipment with a high step up or down; and carrying heavy or awkward loads, all combine to put loggers at exceptionally high risk for knee injuries and pain.
Regardless of whether the pain is a result of an acute injury like a tear in the meniscus that requires surgery, or from a chronic issue like arthritis, logging with knee pain makes for a long day. Below are some simple steps loggers can take to improve their knee health.
- Strengthening your quads will help protect the knee joint and improve knee stability
- Wearing quality boots can improve your traction and reduce ankle rolling.
- Using anti-fatigue mats when appropriate can decrease joint stress.
- Maintain your knee joint range of motion with stretching and exercise.
- Improve your posture – leaning too far forward with knees over toes increases knee stress.
- Try to keep your work areas clear of clutter to reduce fall hazards.
- Use anti-slip surfaces in your work areas.
- If you’ve had an injury, talk to a therapist about taping the knee area to provide extra support.
- Use the RICE method if there is swelling (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate).
- For arthritis, moist heat can help ease the joints prior to working.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Extra weight puts unnecessary stress on knees and other joints.
Every injury and person is different. Talk with your primary care provider for specific recommendations and referrals to professionals that can provide you with the right advice. Waiting too long to address knee pain not only prolongs the pain and recovery, it is likely to lessen your productivity as well as making you even more susceptible to further damage or falls.