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Common Injuries For Tradespeople and How to Prevent These

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It’s always better to prevent a problem starting than having to fix it up. True for the body and the building site. We know accidents happen but by changing a few simple ways you use your body everyday could make the difference between injury or not.

Accidents happen, body parts get torn, but just like dealing with clients, if you know what you can change early in the piece, it makes for a better long term outcome.

The Shoulder

Working with handheld tools all day, whether it be a nail gun or paint roller, can be hard on the shoulders. The rotator cuff muscle group of the shoulder is the most common source of shoulder pain seen in our Motus Health clinics. Working with arms overhead for a long time and excessive rotation of the shoulder can cause this pain.

FIX: change the height which you work at – longer handles, working on a small step, alternating between medium and high work tasks if possible.

FIX: think about keeping your elbows down when working, this means you are not putting your shoulder in a risky position, that’s much better in the long run for the rotator cuff.

FIX: like any construction task the foundation is important, in the shoulder this is the muscle of the shoulder blade, remind these to work by tucking your shoulder blades down and back and if you are into the gym, work these muscles.

The Back

Are you sick of being told a million things about what not to do with your back.  As physiotherapists here is our top advice for those backs which are sore at end of day and hard to move in the mornings.

FIX: think about how much bending you do during the day, this puts a lot of stress on the muscles and discs in your back.   You can help to relieve this stress by arching your back backwards at regular intervals during the day.  At the end of day rest on your tummy on the floor instead of slumming on the couch.

FIX: when bending forward to pick up tools and supplies squat down like you are sitting on to a seat rather than bending your back.

FIX: move with balance, when standing, leaning and reaching keep the weight in your heels instead of your toes, try it out, feel the difference!

FIX: your abdominal muscles help protect your back, make sure they work by drawing your tummy button to your spine and breathe out as you lift.

The Elbow and Wrist

Some people who work all day every day with their hands gripping tools and supplies can get wrist or elbow pain. There is one simple way to change this. Use the power side of your hand.

The power side of your hand is the little finger side. The thumb side of the hand is for fine stuff like threading wires.

FIX: when gripping with the whole hand, think about gripping harder with your little finger than your index finger to send the power along this side of your hand and not into your elbow.

FIX: when carrying supplies or boxes hold the bulk of the weight on this power side of your hand.

FIX: when pushing, like when using a compactor, put your thumb on the same side as your fingers to switch off that side of your hand and be able to make the power side work more.

Tradespeople often only think about the risk of big injuries.  At Motus Health our physiotherapists think it’s important that you are able to work each day with less discomfort, go home and be able to do what you want to do without pain and the next morning get up and go to work without being sore before you even get out the door.

Try a few of these quick fixes; we think you might be surprised at the big difference a small change can make.

AUTHOR:  Katie Croft is an occupational health physiotherapist based at Motus Rangiora.  

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