Keeping Fit and Healthy as a Tradie


Many tradies assume that because their job is so physically demanding, they don’t need to maintain regular physical activity to remain healthy. While this is true to some extent, as tradies are putting constant strain on the same areas of their body, this can also lead to a number of chronic problems and injuries. No matter if you’re a labourer, chippy, plumber, or bricklayer, all of these professions require a healthy and functioning body to complete their daily work.

Much like a tradie relies on his or her tools to be able to make a living, they also rely on their body and its physical ability to complete the tasks expected of them. To this extent, it’s paramount to keep your body in tip-top shape, much like you would your tools.

Common physical injuries and issues among tradies

To give you an idea of what can happen when you don’t take care of yourself, here are some of the most common problems experienced by tradies:

Physical injuries

As tradies are continually lifting heavy objects and operating machinery, musculoskeletal disorders are the most common injuries amongst the majority of tradies. These injuries can occur all at once, or gradually over time and include back pain, muscle sprains, joint degeneration, chronic pain and nerve injuries. Lower back pain is perhaps one of the more common problem areas, closely followed by neck, shoulder, ankles and knees.

These types of injuries are commonly caused from picking up, carrying and putting down heavy objects, repetitive movement and strains, or bad falls.

Extended work hours

Tradies aren’t limited to 9-5 hours like many other commercial jobs. They’re expected to start earlier and finish later until a job is complete. Studies have shown that those who averaged three or four hours of overtime a day were actually 2-15 more likely to develop chronic diseases.

Psychological pressure

Perhaps more relevant to sub-contractors, but there is also a degree psychological stress that comes with finding the next project or job so as to make an income. Especially as building and construction can be a highly competitive market, knowing there is a continued line of work available it not always a sure thing. This can place great stress on an individual mentally and lead to problems such as depression or anxiety.

Be a legend in the eyes of the ATO
Ask Bob: Doing Cashies

Health and fitness tips to avoid physical or psychological concerns

First and foremost, regular exercise is still a must even for those in physically demanding roles. This doesn’t mean you have to become shredded with a six pack, but it does involve frequent cardio and resistance training to strengthen muscular endurance and aerobic capacity.

  • Strength training – working on specific muscle groups such as your back, shoulders and legs will reduce the likelihood of strained or torn muscles and will give you more endurance to work throughout the day
  • Healthy eating – focus on eating foods that are high in energy but low in Gl, such as oranges, oats, bananas, and mixed grain
  • Pack your own lunch – not only will this help you cut down on your daily expenses, but it also means you’ll prevent yourself from giving in to the temptation of getting junk food
  • Stretch daily – complete 5-10 minutes of stretching every morning to keep up your flexibility. Consider doing some yoga or Pilate classes to assist with strengthening your core
  • Stay hydrated – drinking 2-3 litres of water a day is a must, especially during those summer months
  • Maintain a consistent sleeping pattern – try to get yourself in bed by the same time every night to avoid disjointed sleeping patterns and feeling fatigued in the morning
  • Sit don’t squat – try and complete certain tasks whilst sitting as this will put less strain on your legs and back vs squatting or kneeling.
  • Take micro breaks – if you’re spending long hours doing a single, strenuous task, take multiple, short breaks throughout the day instead of long breaks

Experiencing pain? See a professional

One of the most important tips for tradies: always seek the advice of a professional if you’re injured yourself at work or are experiencing reoccurring pains. Putting off a visit to the physio or doctor may come back to bite you if a treatable condition is only made worse by a lack of proper treatment.