The other day I set out to build a fence around our vege patch. Well, I say “vege” patch, but we commonly call it the weed garden these days. Anyway, the last time we had a broccoli plant growing in there, our wonderful, but greedy Black Labrador, Millie ripped it to shreds in search of her greens for the day. Hence, the need for the fence. A whole day of toil later I stood back to look at my handy man effort and concluded that as a Tradie I make a very good Physio! Hats off to Tradies, they all possess skills that I can only marvel at.
August is Tradies National Health Month. This is an initiative set up by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and Steel Blue in order to educate and engage tradespeople on the importance of full body health and safety. I regularly treat tradespeople who are in need of some putting back together after work related injuries. The one thing most of them have in common is that they have been putting up with some pain for as long as they can remember. In fact, according to the Tradieshealth website, the stats back this up and are quite alarming: Every day 10 tradies are badly injured at work - that is 3650 tradespeople a year on workers compensation; nearly a quarter of all roofers, labourers and plumbers experience back pain and muscle injury from lifting; and 80% of all injured workers in Australia are tradespeople or labourers.
And it is becoming increasingly apparent that prevention is far better than cure: After 6 months off work, 18% of injured workers sought access to mental health services and after a year off work, 30% of injured workers had sought treatment for mental health. Obviously, this is a massive problem. Tradies rely on their musculoskeletal health to do their jobs; and ignoring aches, pains and body stress could result in disability and debilitation in the future.
Here are a few tips to help tradespeople from putting too much stress on their already under pressure bodies:
- Prior to any lift, ask yourself if there is an easier way to do this. Could I use a forklift, crane, wheelbarrow or other device to do the hard work for me?
- For those heavy lifts, asking for help doesn’t make you less of a tradie.
- Do a quick safety check of the area and what you plan to lift. Remove all the hazards out of way BEFORE you start carrying the load.
- If you do have to lift, then use a sound lifting technique with your feet comfortably apart and in a stable position. Lift using your hips and knees, not your back, and try to maintain the natural curve of your back.
- Adjust your seat so you are sitting reasonably upright and adjust the lumbar support if available to almost maximum.
- Take regular breaks on longer journeys and do neck and back stretches.
- Don’t sit with your wallet in your back pocket.
- Be careful what you do after a long trip. Don’t jump straight into work, take a few minutes to warm up and stretch a bit.
- Please do some regular exercise on top of your hard days’ work. I understand that the work is difficult, but it is important your body gets variety in movement.
- Simple exercise such as a taking the dog for a walk, going for a swim or a gentle bike ride is always best.
- On top of that there are 2 exercises that if done morning and night will help your back tremendously. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent up and then gently take your knees side to side towards the ground. Be sure to keep your feet on the ground. After you have done 10 of these in each direction, slowly take your knees up towards your chest. Try to hug them into your chest as far as comfortable. Repeat that 10 times as well. These 2 exercises should only be done if they are completely pain free and in a slow and gentle manner.
DON’T IGNORE THE PAIN
- Physiotherapists are experts at understanding human movement. We understand how your muscles, bones, joints and ligaments work and how injuries happen.
- Getting help now can get you back functioning at your optimum and also protect your future health, wellbeing and livelihood.
A note to all the tradies out there: Please look after yourselves, take your health seriously and stop injuring yourselves. I would hate to think of a world without you, a world in which we all had to build our own weed garden fences. Now, where did I put that chainsaw ………………..
If you want further information sheets check out this website: http://www.tradieshealth.com.au/info-resources/