'Sportier' approach could help tradies tackle soreness

Australian Physiotherapy Association
Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

'Sportier' approach could help tradies tackle soreness

Taking a ‘sportier’ approach to work could help tradies tackle work-related stiffness, soreness and injury, according to the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). In their latest survey, the APA found that 60% of tradies often have work-induced aches and pains and 36% generally finish their work day stiff and sore. Alarmingly, 69% of tradies believe it is normal to be sore as a result of their work. However, these issues could be at least partly prevented by stretching and warming up — practices often valued in sports and exercise.

Of the tradies who exercise or play sport regularly, more than half spend a few minutes stretching and warming up before an activity because they know it will help prevent injuries. Yet, less than a quarter of all respondents warm up before starting physically demanding work, APA National President Phil Calvert said. In a positive finding from the APA study, two-thirds of tradies were open to the idea of warming up if they felt their employers would support it.

“There’s a real opportunity for trade employers to take a proactive position and encourage their employees to spend a few minutes each day getting their bodies warmed up for the physical work ahead,” Calvert said. “Tradies are at particular risk of a range of injuries as a result of the intensity and repetitive nature of their work, so it’s important that they put these preventive health measures in place and get help before little niggles turn into more chronic issues.”

Workers should also ensure they operate within their bodies’ healthy limits and follow safe lifting guidelines to protect themselves from soreness and injury. Currently, 42% push their bodies beyond their limits and almost a third said they do not follow safe lifting practices. Ultimately, tradies need to start putting their bodies and mental health before their work and tools. According to the survey, 88% of tradies take good care of their tools while 60% take good care of their bodies and mental health. Additionally, almost half the tradies surveyed had not taken a sick day in more than six months, and only one quarter of tradies felt comfortable talking to co-workers about mental health issues affecting their work, while just over half were open to discussing physical concerns.

“While tradies appear reluctant to open up to their workmates and bosses about mental health issues in particular, the majority (73%) said they wouldn’t think any less of their workmates for taking time off for mental health concerns. So it seems they have tougher expectations of themselves than their co-workers,” Calvert said. “At the end of the day we all want to go home safely to our families, so tradies should look at all options to make sure they are in the best physical and mental shape to get through the day. That might include warm-up stretches at the start of the day and open dialogue with bosses and co-workers about personal injuries or issues affecting their work.”

Image credit: © stock.adobe.com/au/Wayhome Studio

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