Coffee-Making Motions May Cause “Barista Elbow”
Repeated motions of lifting pitchers, steaming milk and stamping espresso may cause medial epicondylitis—golfer’s elbow—or other stress injuries in baristas. A recent New York Post article chronicles one woman’s experience with a stress injury allegedly resulting from her job duties as a barista. In addition, a former barista in Canberra, Australia, was recently awarded $600,000 (AUD) in damages after she had a rib removed and was diagnosed with a nerve disorder as a result of the stress from repeatedly holding a 4.4-pound jug of milk while the coffee machine steamed it. According to an informal survey conducted by coffee website Sprudge, 55 percent of 475 respondents reported they had sustained repetitive stress injuries in their barista work. While treatment can include physical therapy or surgery, a certified hand specialist who spoke to the Post said that preventative measures like exercise and better posture can help protect coffee shop employees from injury. See New York Post, May 4, 2014.