After clinic today we had a cultural lecture on how lepobs and machetes are used. A lepob is a cotton sheet that is wrapped around the head and used to carry babies up to the age of 5. Imagine carrying a 5 year old child in a bag on your head with just you neck muscles. This explains why a lot of my patients have neck pain and headaches. She also lectured us on how machetes are used in the fields by the men. They could be working in the field for 10 hours non-stop using a machete. That is a lot of repetitive motion that they are doing. Once she finished her lecture she gave us all bleach bottles and told us they would be our babies. We then each took a lepob and carried our babies on our heads while we walked about half a mile up a hill.
Once we were at the top of the hill we took off the lepobs and started to use the machetes. Watching how men do this in the villages explains a lot about why they all have low back pain. Not only is the repetitive movement bad for the wrist, shoulder, and upper extremity, but it I also putting a huge strain on the back musculature. Not to mention the body mechanics during this activity are VERY poor. Once we were done this we started to head back to the clinic. I decided that I wanted to combine the two gender roles and I attempted to use a machete while carrying my baby in a lepob. This was not an easy task but it was hilarious to try. It is amazing how this is the standard in their culture. We look at it as if it is so strange because it so clearly causes a lot of issues to your body but this is how they have lived for generations.