Time and time again I speak with injured clients that say the same thing… “I do enough exercise at work, so why do I have to go to the gym?” or “I worked a 12 hour day so that’s enough exercise”.
It is often clients that work in labour-intensive jobs that come up with this justification for not engaging in a structured exercise program. Ironically, these are the clients that I see the most to assist in their injury rehabilitation.
So why is it so important to engage in a regular exercise program even if you are working hard all day? Surely it can’t make that much of a difference to your health right? Well I tend to disagree.
People that work in highly laborious jobs such as painting, process work or concreting will often become physically-efficient with their specific work tasks, however the repetitive and strenuous nature of these roles can often lead to injury, especially if poor postures are adopted over a long period. For example, a concreter who performs sustained forward twisting and bending postures day in day out will likely suffer bouts of back pain because of the frequent muscle and ligament strain. If this behaviour continues and the concreter does not look after his health outside of work (healthy diet and regular structured exercise), the risk of injury will increase especially with age.
Common injuries that I see include lower back strains, disc bulges, shoulder tears and bursitis. These injuries often occur from static loading on a particular body part, forceful movements or rapid/ repetitive movements. Some of the time these movements cannot be avoided in particular jobs however there are strategies to decrease your risk of injury which are important for work sustainability.
Strategies to keep in mind:
* Break regularly if in regular or sustained awkward postures
* Stretch prior to work, during work and at the end of the day
* Try to interchange between various tasks to avoid prolonged postures
* Avoid bending- try to squat or kneel instead
* Move feet to turn body instead of twisting
Please note that these strategies are the bare minimum when looking after your physical health. Outside of work, there should be a focus on performing a regular structured exercise program to address muscle imbalances, tight muscle groups and improve energy levels.
Remember that effective exercise programs are not “one size fits all” so they should differ between individuals depending on their needs. There are many exercise modalities that should be incorporated in a balanced program – it is not always about going to the gym and “pumping iron”. Examples of this include stretching, Pilates, yoga, Tai chi, resistance exercise, walking, running, cycling and swimming to name a few.
A structured exercise program outside of work hours will promote the following benefits:
* Helps to maintain healthy body weight
* Correct muscle imbalances
* Improve core strength
* Improve flexibility
* Improve cardiovascular fitness
* Increase energy
* Decrease stress
Blog – Rob Darlington (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)