This country was built with the strong backs and tough hands of our tradespeople. The carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, painters, electricians and multitude of other Tradies define our suburbs, cities and country with their skill. They build our homes, workplaces and public buildings.

Almost 70% of Australian men work in some type of blue collar job that has a physical element to it. While white collar workers often spend their day with mentally taxing tasks that drain their energy, tradesman often have both the mentally challenging tasks as well as the physical demands of their work.

Tradies rely on their musculoskeletal health to do their jobs, often ignoring the aches and pains that could result in debilitation or perhaps even permanent disability in the future. A tough day at work may include muscle strain from lifting equipment or slips, trips and falls when handling tools and equipment. According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, every day 10 Australian Tradies are injured at work. Multiply that by working days in a year and that’s a lot of skilled tradespeople on Workers’ Compensation and that’s no fun for anyone in the long run.

Painful Man Holding Neck on Isolated Background
Don’t ignore chronic aches and pains, which could be a symptom of a worsening injury

So what can we do to keep our Tradies safe and pain free and what do they need to know to help themselves keep moving well and living their lives to their full potential long into the future.

Over the month of August I would like to share some tips with not only the Tradies themselves but with their families and friends. We need to encourage these hard working men and women to protect their future health, wellbeing and livelihood.

Feeling tired after a hard days work is normal. As long as you are fuelling the body with all the nutrients it needs, drinking plenty of water, eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day and making sure your protein and calcium intake is adequate, then you should feel tired and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

But if you have some aches and niggles that don’t go away after a few days, especially if they are disturbing your sleep or your ability to move freely while you are awake, then you should not ignore it. Persistent aches and pains are a warning sign that something is wrong. It may just be a muscle imbalance that requires a massage or some stretching. But it needs to be diagnosed and sorted out before it worsens.

Stretching is just about maintaining flexibility in the muscles. If you don’t want your muscles to turn into a pile of dried out beef jerky that snap when you put a bit of strain on them you need to keep them soft, supple and flexible by drinking lots of water and stretching them regularly.

Foam rolling can provide great relief for tight muscles. It requires rolling the tight area of the body over a cylindrical cylinder of dense foam.  You can also use a couple of tennis balls in an old sock or a soccer ball. Their are lots of different ways to ease the tension in tight muscles and many of them are inexpensive and you can learn to do it yourself at home in front of the TV. You can always contact me for advice or assistance with learning these techniques.

Next week I am going to discuss Core strength which is often misunderstood by many people who think it’s just having six-pack abs.

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