January 9, 2013

The Needless Barista Health Crisis

My identity is basically split down the middle, half barista, half runner. These things combined form most people's image of me, which is cool, because that's the image I've put out in to the world. We are the sum of our choices and our actions; we are what we consistently do. I make coffee and I run a lot. So, you know, those conclusions are wholly logical.

As a runner, I value my health and fitness. I ask my body to do a lot of things - sometimes very difficult, borderline insane things. But I put the work in, so I survive. Sometimes I even place sort of high. This is because of the work, because I don't show up at the start line of a marathon without training properly. I run a lot, of course, but also spend a few hours a week on general strength and core work. Because these things matter to runners.

And, I would argue, they should matter to baristas too. Baristas stand all day, lift things, and tamp. None of these things, taken on their own, are hard. But they can add up, over the hours, and then over the weeks, years, etc. You can end up, quite easily, with a host of chronic issues from the neck down.

Sprudge is currently running a series on barista health. It's a great and informative series, asking questions that no one (to my knowledge) has yet considered. And the results, frankly, are depressing. In short: We, as an occupation, are hurt all the fucking time. We are young and yet complain of afflictions usually confined to retirement homes. It doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't be this way.
I wrote this comment on Part 2 of the series: If you are the sort of person who prioritizes health and fitness outside of work, you’ll have less problems at work. That is, if you have adequate strength and mobility across the basic planes of movement, tamping and standing all day shouldn’t be difficult at all. I would also suggest that wearing flatter shoes would do many baristas a world of good. The higher the heel to forefoot ratio, the more torque is placed on your knees. That stress is moved up the kinetic chain, and can result in back and shoulder problems too.
Simple. It really is. Maintain a healthy weight. Don't eat like shit. Lift things. Move.

Standing and tamping all day don't create weaknesses, they reveal them. Fix the underlying lifestyle problems that lead to those weaknesses, and you'll be better off.

1 comment:

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