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Physios urged to get behind National Tradies Month

Photo: Australian Physiotherapy Association
Physiotherapists are being encouraged to get onboard Tradies National Health Month this August, to help raise awareness of the health and injury risks affecting those who work in trade occupations.

Despite making up just 30 per cent of the workforce, Tradies experience more injuries than any other workers in Australia, with 3 out of 5 serious workplace injuries involving a tradie.

According to Dave Hall from the Australian Physiotherapy Association, the average time a tradie takes off from work due to workplace injury is around 6 weeks.

“To help reverse these statistics, we need to take a good look at the workplace culture and practices of many tradies and encourage them to focus more on their health and safety,” said Mr Hall.

“Quite simply, tradies rely on their bodies for work—their bodies are their primary work tool. If it breaks down or becomes incapacitated through injury or chronic illness, they can’t work to their full ability.”
Physiotherapy can offer significant benefits to tradies from both an injury prevention and management perspective.

“Physiotherapists are trained in human movement and are able to show tradies the best way to perform a task. This can be done in group training or on a one-on-one basis.”

Mr Hall said physiotherapists were well-equipped to help with tradies’ fitness, flexibility and strength to ensure they’re are working optimally.

When it comes to fitness, there’s more to consider than just running or playing sport.

It’s also about eating and sleeping well, maintaining a healthy weight and living a balanced life, said Mr Hall.

Flexibility is also important for tradies and as little as 5-10 minutes of stretching every morning before work can make a big difference.

“It’s particularly helpful to stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, back and shoulder muscles,” he said.

Physios should also encourage tradies to take care of their core stabiliser muscles which 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.”

Core muscles should be assessed to ensure tradies are using them correctly for specific work tasks.

“Strength in your large muscle groups, such as quadriceps and glutes, will also aid you in performing tasks correctly.”

But despite best attempts at prevention, injuries will still take place, and effective management is crucial.

Physiotherapists are well-positioned to advise tradies on how they can manage their current workload without making any injuries worse, and help provide treatment for a quick recovery.

"Self employed Tradies are often guilty of letting injuries get so bad that they can barely walk by the time they seek help.

“That culture has to change.

“Tradies need to better protect their number one tool - their health! "

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.