Baristas – Protecting Your Employees 

The job of hospitality staff, in general, is a very physically demanding job. An increasing number of restaurant and cafe employees are developing elbow, wrist, shoulder, back and other joint problems due to the repetitive stresses such as lifting large gallons of milk, from repetitive stress of whisking/mixing /holding pans/sauté and prolonged standing. 

Most of the movements in hospitality are actually highly unnatural. From lifting heavy milk jugs when steaming milk, prolonged standing, lifting/carrying heavy loads or being put in awkward positions with/without additional load. Injuries can occur when muscles, joints, and bones are forced into overdrive or when hours on the job end up lasting longer than any sporting event. 

One of the most common issues is repetitive strain injury. Similar to computer-induced repetitive strain injury, overuse of one arm can cause nerve tension and associated dysfunction of the neck and surrounding muscles. This can push the shoulder girdle out of whack, increasing the load on nerve tissues down the arm. Many suffer from neck and low back pain from chronic posturing and standing all day.

A study published in the journal Ergonomics conducted at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario in 2014 analysed occupational-related shoulder and lower back pain in baristas. 68% of baristas experienced shoulder pain, 80% of those surveyed experienced lower back pain with 50% attributing that pain to their jobs.

Though harder to spot than steam wand burns, the aches that come from overstressed muscles are just as important to reduce and plan for when it comes to the health and wellness of your staff. Overworked muscles require physical therapy or massage.

Massage therapy is extremely successful in preventing and eliminating  repetitive strain injury by: 

  • Decreasing muscle, ligament and tendon tension
  • Boosting oxygen and nutrients level to allow regeneration of tissues damaged by the Repetitive Strain Injury
  • Increasing range of movement by stretching the tissues and unwinding muscle twists
  • Breaking down the scar tissue to decrease the risk of reoccurring and enable muscles to regain their strength
  • Increasing circulation, which flushes natural toxins out and reduces inflammation