As part of the job, Aussie tradies are built tough! Working long hours, often outside, with heavy lifting, and using tools all day – it can take its toll! The physical demands and manual labour can find most tradies in difficult positions like crawling into tight spaces, awkward lifting, reaching around corners and even working on unstable surfaces.
But did you know that on average 10 tradies are badly injured at work every day!? Statistics can show that tradies make up 30% of the Aussie workforce but contribute to 58% of accidents and serious injuries! These may seem like some crazy numbers but it makes complete sense that years of twisting, pushing, and pulling can take its toll on your body.
So read on to find out the ways that you can take care of your body and reduce your risks of being part of that 58%!
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Quite simply, as a tradie you rely on your body for your work- it’s your most valuable and important tool. If your body is no longer moving the way you want it to or if you suffer an injury, then comes the risk of having to take time off work. On average, tradies will take 5-6 weeks off work due to serious workplace injury.
Surveys have also shown that whilst 79% of tradies report taking good care of their tools, only 47% report taking care of their bodies!
It is not uncommon for accidents to happen and for a tradie to slip, trip or fall while on a job, however the most common injury is from lifting.
Common areas of injury and pain for tradespeople are:
- Low back pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Elbow pain
- Knee pain
- Ankle sprain
“TOUGHEN UP MATE!”
Tradies tend to think they just need to toughen up; often working through injuries and hoping for the best. Over 50% of tradies think that their aches and pains are just part of the job but this is just not the case!
While it is normal to feel some niggles, it is not a good idea to ignore them. Discomfort is a sign that your body gives you; a message that something is not quite right. Ignoring a niggle often means ignoring a chance to deal with a smaller issue that when left unattended can lead to longer recovery time or chronic injury.
Sometimes that “she’ll be right” attitude can be your worst enemy. A lot of tradies will put off seeking medical help because they may be worried about a particular diagnosis (bulging disc, a torn ligament, etc) and what that could mean for them (“that’s six weeks off mate”).
Others find themselves googling their symptoms or being told generalised information by someone who once had similar pain. While these anecdotes can be handy to hear, it is important to stay on top of your pain and seek individualised care in order to help keep you feeling your best.
It is essential that you take the necessary steps to prepare your body for the day’s work ahead. Here are some simple ways to help prepare your body:
- Decrease the risk of muscular injury by warming up your soft tissues through stretching and gentle movement before doing any lifting or repetitive tasks.
- Focusing on improving your overall fitness and ensuring you are in the best physical condition possible.
- Regular strength and endurance training will mean your body is better able to deal with the physical and mental demands.
- Trunk strengthening can reduce the risk of low back injuries, one of the most common injuries associated with manual work.
- Mobility focused exercises can help aid your recovery after a big day on the tools.
Remember to rest and recover.
PREVENTATIVE CARE – KEEPING STRONG AND FIT
It is important that you take the time to have a rest and a stretch every 1-2 hours for around 10-15 minutes. This will help reduce the risk of an injury as it gives muscles, ligaments, and joints time to recuperate after long periods of activity.
Although most tradies work hard during the day, it is still important to do some form of exercise regularly throughout the week. Something as simple as going for a walk, or some light resistance training can greatly reduce the chance of a workplace injury.
Not sure what sort of exercises to try? Check out our handy warm-up list below and click the links to try a few out! Please be mindful to listen to your body when doing any exercises, and to stop if you are experiencing any pain.
Warm Up Stretches
Other important exercises can be cardiovascular and aerobic focused. This can include running, swimming, cycling, or using cardio equipment at the gym as part of your fitness routine in an attempt to get your heart pumping!
An additional great way to aid in injury prevention is to allow your body time to recover after a big work day. Yoga is very beneficial for recovery – here is a link to a yoga workout designed especially for tradies!
Try this: Yoga for Tradies
CORRECT LIFTING POSTURE
- Approach the load – feet should be shoulder width apart
- Bend your knees and hips
- Keep your back as straight as possible.
- Hold the load as close to your torso/body as possible- this means it is closest to your centre of gravity!
- Use your gluteal (bum) and thigh (quadriceps) muscles as your main lifting muscles as you drive yourself up to a standing position. These are the largest muscles in your body for a reason, so make sure you use them!
- Get somebody to help! Assess the load, and if it is too heavy to lift on your own, make sure you ask someone to help you
HAD AN INJURY?
If you experience an injury it is important that you seek help early so you can get diagnosed and access the best treatment for your condition. Osteopaths are trained in human movement; they understand how your muscles, bones, joints and ligaments work together optimally.
Our osteopaths can offer help in a range of ways including manual therapy, exercise prescription, and educating you about your condition so you know how best to manage it.
Our main advice – don’t wait for your injury to get worse! It doesn’t have to be critical for you to see a health professional. Remember, early intervention can prevent more serious injury.
If you would like to make an appointment, you can book online here:
Or if you have any questions please call us on (03) 9717 1200 or email [email protected]