Tradies National Health month – August

It is no surprise that Back pain is the most common injury experienced by tradies, as it is the part of the body involved in almost all the tasks that tradies undertake at work. Other common injuries for tradies include:

  • shoulder issues related to repetitive reaching and holding actions with the arms
  • knee injuries related to repetitive bending to the ground
  • ankle sprains related to working on uneven ground.

A tradie’s health is their most important tool, yet Australian tradies experience some of the highest rates of injury and time off work compared to other workers. In fact, 3 in 5 serious workplace injuries involve a tradie, despite tradies making up only 30 per cent of the Australian workforce.

Most injuries to tradies occur as a result of ignoring pain and niggles, rushing at work, improvising with tools or equipment or being distracted by everyday tasks.

Physiotherapy can be enormously beneficial in helping to prevent and manage injuries. Physiotherapists are trained in human movement and are able to show you the best way to perform a task. This can be done in group training or on a one-on-one basis.

Our physiotherapists can help you with your fitness, flexibility and strength to ensure you are working optimally.

Let’s look at these in turn:

Fitness

This isn’t just about running or playing sport, it also includes eating well, sleeping well, maintaining a healthy weight and living a balanced life that includes time for things you enjoy doing with friends and family.

Flexibility

5-10 minutes of stretching every morning before work can make a big difference and help you warm up for the day. It’s particularly helpful to stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, back and shoulder muscles.

Strength

Our core stabiliser muscles act like a natural active back brace. Having good core stability can help to reduce back pain and other associated issues. Some simple exercises for 5-10 minutes at the start of the working day can help wake these muscles up and get them ready for action.

Our physios can assess your core muscles and make sure you are using them correctly for your tasks at work. Strength in your large muscle groups, such as quadriceps and glutes, will also aid you in performing tasks correctly.

Injury management

Despite your best efforts, jobs involving manual and repetitive tasks will, from time-to-time, result in aches and pains. It is best to see a physiotherapist early before the issue progresses to something more serious.

The physio can advise you on how to manage your work without making the issue worse, along with providing treatment and exercises to assist in a speedy recovery.

Tradies can follow a few simple steps to help reduce the chance of injury:

  • take a few minutes when you are about to start a job to think it through. Ask yourself: Is this the best way? Am I using the correct tools for the job? Do I need any help? Is it safe to proceed? If you answer yes to all these questions, get to it. If not, then change something until it is safe to finish the job
  • be mindful of what else is going on in your life and how it can influence your work. Many tradies get hand injuries when their mind is not completely on the job. We all know the dangers of not paying attention while driving—the same goes when swinging a hammer or using a rattle gun.
  • seek advice from a physio as soon as you feel a niggle. The earlier you see a physiotherapist for even the smallest injury, the quicker it will get better and the less chance your work will be impacted. Our physios can also give advice on how to prevent it happening in the future.

Many tradies have to complete jobs that require either repetitive bending or awkward positions, so flexibility is really important to tradespeople. Improving flexibility requires regular stretching. Here are some great ones to try:

  • standing hamstring stretch
  • piriformis stretch
  • pec stretch – to reduce the tightness when working on items in front of you all day
  • forearm stretch or massage – to reduce the risk of injury from gripping tools all day.

Information gathered from the APA website