Is today’s tradie – half human, half machine?

Every movement you do at work is potentially honing a muscle in your body each minute. When you consider how much lifting and physical work you might be doing each day, you might only need the gym to fill a few gaps in your overall fitness program, or perhaps chisel and sculpt your own version of Michelangelo’s “David” or “Madonna” out of that lump of stone.

Whatever trade you’re in, you are on the go all day. Its 7 am and you’re assigned to lift 50 sheets of plywood on a deck. Or you are a concreter, you’ve been at it all day and another truck has just arrived with another 8 cubes to shovel and rake. A carpenter might be expected to complete a whole floor, hanging doors. Lifting, carrying, bending, stretching all day. Roofing, tiling, formwork, bricklaying, anything . . . you train your mind, acquiring skills and knowledge, and you train your body to work like a machine.

Keeping fit and healthy as a tradie
As much as you may be dependent on the tools to get the job done, your physical ability and body must function correctly too. It’s essential to keep your health and fitness in top shape just like you would do with your tools. Everyone understands that a footballer requires fitness and a level of athletic ability to be “match fit”. Well a top tradie also needs a certain level of dexterity, flexibility and fitness to be “trade fit”.

Train your body
If you think of your work as a gym routine, every stretch and strain on the job is a strengthening process. Being physically stuffed at the end of the day has surely produced a positive outcome, both in work product and improving your physical capacity and endurance. Being completely wrecked after a game of footy or a bike ride usually makes you happy, because you know you’ve stretched yourself. So, what’s stopping us thinking of the physical aspect of work in the same way?

Look after the machine
You decided to be a tradie so you could work outdoors and finish early, rather than sitting at an office desk until 5pm. Sure, you may still have some quotes or invoicing to do after work, but office workers don’t all finish at five either. The point is that after a physical day on the tools, you can really benefit by making time to maintain the machine.

Some days, machine maintenance might simply be a hot shower and a nap on the couch. Depending on the type of work you do, you might find specific muscle sets need to stretch and unwind. Light resistance weights, pilates or a swim session a few days a week might be perfect. Some muscles might have been operating under low revs, but heavy pressure and a short (say 10 – 15 minute), high intensity bike or erg session may help to loosen them up, followed by a cool down routine.
Remember to not “push yourself” too much as you may feel the effects of it the next day!

Fitness and injury
You know intuitively that if you look after a machine or your tools, they will last longer and you will get more out of them. If you let ‘em rust, they will break down and be no good to anyone.
Same goes if you look after yourself. A light work-out or warm-down each day, not only relieves back and shoulder tightness, it strengthens muscle and soothes tension pain.

Your body is like a new car that you get on the day you become a tradie. The thing is you only get one and its gotta last you for maybe forty years.

FFWHS Requirement
So, make your choice. You might be Terminator, Ironman, Antman or Wonder Woman. Or, you might take the “work hard, play hard” ethos to the max and be more like Deadpool. Whatever your super-hero persona, you need a strong FFWHS regime to optimise the human / machine asset that is required of every tradie. Fun, Fitness, Work, Health & Safety. Be good to yourself!

Check out our article on survey that shows tradies are at risk of being overweight.

article by Jeremy Sleiman 15 March 2019