Tradies are used to a lot of hard yakka which brings with it a heap of aches, pains, and sometimes, injuries.
You spend a lot of time and money looking after your tools, but it’s important to know how to Exercise Right and look after the most important piece of equipment – YOU!
1. Control the Core
If you were to ask what the biggest pain issue for tradies is – the most likely answer would be back and neck.
Now besides not lifting properly (yes, you know who you are) the biggest cause of issues with the body is the fact that you have a weak core.
The core is so much more than having a six-pack, it’s the whole area of your body that has a knock-on effect on most other parts. The core is used in pretty much every activity you do – carrying, sawing, lifting, crawling, digging.
Our number one piece of advice to you is to care for the core!
Take note of this equation:
Stronger core = stronger muscles = stronger joints = better function and movement
Some of the exercises that may suit you include (make sure you do a gentle warm-up set first):
- Straight leg crunches
Top tip: Even a little work on your core during the day can go a long way to creating a stronger body. For example, every time you’re in the ute and stopped at a traffic light – engage the core by internally working on the muscles – try pulling your belly button in towards the back of your seat.
2. It’s not about being “muscle man” – it’s about being “enduro man”
Having the biggest muscles doesn’t mean you are the fittest.
As a tradie, you do the same physically draining repetitive work each day, and that can lead to injuries and pains in your knees, elbows, shoulders, and wrists – in fact, all over your body.
You need to train your body to be used to working repeatedly to get it moving like a well-oiled machine and put a stop to the aches and pains.
Top tip: Why not work on your core and endurance at the same time by using a ‘circuit’ method of training? Not only is it a great workout for the whole body, it is also great if you don’t have a huge amount of spare time.
A typical circuit would include:
- Limited – It’s not about packing in hundreds of exercises, choose only 6 – 12 exercises with two to three sets of each
- Planned – Take some time to plan in advance what different exercise you would like to do and then write it down and take it with you
- Mixed – add a variety of different exercises that use as many muscles as possible
You can start with 10 minutes – e.g. 6 exercises with two sets of each lasting 30 seconds.
3. Can’t forget the Cardio
Luckily if you are a tradie then sitting all day isn’t really an option for you.
Yet, do you know how many steps you actually do? Our best piece of advice is to borrow or buy an activity tracker and become aware of how much (or little) you do. If you are constantly reaching over 10,000 steps a day then well done…if you’re not, you know you have to up the movement.
Cardio work isn’t all about running on a treadmill – it can be a game of footy, it could be running around with the kids at the park, or punching the boxing bag in the garage.
Remember if it makes you ‘huff and puff’ then you are on the right track.
Top tip: You do move all day so it can be a real chore exercising when you get home so create a plan that is workable for you and try and stick to it. It can start off as little as 10 minutes three days a week and then build up from there.
4. Don’t ignore the warning signs
At the building site, you see signs everywhere of potential dangers right?
Well, your body does the same thing, it tells you when you either need to take it easy or stop and see a health professional.
What are the top warning signs you need to be aware of?
- Pain – pain is the easiest way for the body to say STOP. If it is a pain that keeps occurring then it’s time to do something about it.
- Head spins/dizziness – Spinning around may be ok for Kylie Minogue, but if you are regularly getting a spinning feeling in your head after exercise or lifting heavy things at work it’s time to take notice.
- Numbness – if you get an uncomfortable tingling or numbness in your body that could mean something is not quite right.
- Chest pains – whether it’s at work or during exercise, it’s time to stop NOW and seek medical attention straight away.
Top tip: If you have suffered from an injury or an illness that has seen you have been out of action for a while, talk to a professional like an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) who can give you the best course of action to get the body back in tip-top shape and back to work.