I have been working as a Soft Tissue Therapist since 2001 and throughout this time I have also worked as a tradie from time to time. Over the years I have worked as a scaffolder, sprinkler fitter, painter and a builder’s labourer. Combining this with training for running and also working as a therapist all at once, I can speak first hand on the effects of how a physical job can affect you from day to day and what measures you can put in place to function at your best.
Recovery is one of the key things you can put in place if you work as a tradesman. You are generally up at 5am every morning, on the job site by 6 or 7am, working eight to twelve hour days, five to six days a week. And since you’re also likely to be combining this with a busy family life and playing sport, it can certainly take its toll.
With a physical job comes physical demands on your body and the common things I used to experience as a tradie (and what I see as a therapist nowadays) are:
- Painters tend to have a lot of neck and shoulder issues as a result of rolling out ceilings, climbing up and down ladders and getting into awkward positions.
- Builders and Chippies tend to get a few different musculoskeletal issues arising as a result of heavy lifting and gripping activities. Lower back pain is very common as is tennis elbow as a result of repetitive actions such as gripping and striking a hammer.
- Sparkies and Plumbers tend to have to crawl under houses and into roof spaces so they often suffer from neck, back and shoulder issues.
- Tilers often present with knee pain from having to work on all fours so much.
Here are my top tips for tradies’ recovery and injury prevention:
- One of the best forms of recovery is sleep. It’s important to make sure you are getting at least six to eight hours of sleep a night. For most tradies, this means early nights to prepare for early rises!
- Stay hydrated by making sure that when you’re on site you’re not only smashing down the coffee, energy drinks and soft drinks, but also making sure you’re having a couple of litres of water throughout the day
- Ensure that you’re wearing supportive footwear that are a good fit. Our mates at The Athlete’s Foot can help out with Ascent work boots which we recommend highly
- Have a stretch and jump on the foam roller after work to release those tight muscles
- Get regular treatments with a Myotherapist every four to six as a preventative approach to keeping the niggles at bay
Written by Alan Shields, Myotherapist at Boost Health Collective