Every career comes with its own set of hazards. Accountants develop hip or back issues caused by sitting all day. Software developers experience headaches or eye strain from looking at screens. Nurses often have sore feet. In construction most workers will report having some type of bodily pain at least once during their career. Common issues include pain or injury in the lower back, knees, shoulders, feet, or any area of the body prone to overuse. These problem areas can vary greatly depending on the work being done. The good news is that a little bit of prevention can go a long way in keeping workers healthy and in those cases where injury does happen, immediate treatment usually results in quicker healing. 

Protection & Prevention

Pain medications can temporarily help with workplace injuries, but addressing the root of the problem rather than the symptom often leads to better long-term results. There are many preventative strategies to explore, such as following proper safety protocols and wearing quality gear, but there are other tools available to reduce the likelihood of injury. Regular exercise is one technique and is a fantastic way to strengthen the body, prevent injury and reduce pain. Lifting weights, running, swimming, and stretching are all good exercises to try. Strength training makes muscles more resilient and resistant to injury. It can also make carrying materials on the jobsite easier and decrease the chance of muscle strain. Cardiovascular work, such as running or swimming, improves heart health and physical endurance, and has many other benefits besides injury prevention, such as reducing blood pressure. Daily stretching is another great choice. Stretching improves flexibility, increasing the range of motion and shrinking the chances of a pull or strain. 

Apprentices In Action

Many companies are aware of the benefits of regular exercise and take steps to ensure their employees are working to be in better shape. Training programs are also looking into these preventative methods. Oregon Tradeswomen is a nonprofit organization that seeks to transform lives by building community and economic independence through empowerment, training, career education, advocacy and leadership development in the skilled trades. They offer a pre-apprenticeship program called the Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) aimed at preparing jobseekers for a career in the trades. The program covers typical pre-apprenticeship topics such as safety, math & measurements, and power tool usage, but also has a unique fitness portion. Oregon Tradeswomen partners with Fulcrum Fitness to provide a twice weekly class where the students spend one hour training with a certified fitness instructor. The exercise selection includes band resistance, bodyweight training, cardio, and other forms of exercise. Program participants take a baseline fitness test prior to the start, and, after the 9-week period ends, participants show improvements in baseline health markers. The genesis of this program came from the desire to improve strength & stamina in the women attending, as well as the need to prevent against potential future injuries. The TACC program illustrates the benefits of exercise to both boost endurance & strength for work and help in limiting soreness, tenderness, aches, or discomfort. You can learn more about Oregon Tradeswomen and how they utilize targeted fitness in their TACC program by visiting their website: www.oregontradeswomen.org 

Wrapping Up

Adding a fitness routine to your day will improve your strength and endurance, and keep you on the jobsite and off of the sidelines. A gym membership is great but not  necessary! Running, body weight exercises, and at-home yoga are all accessible and free ways to start incorporating exercise. Whatever your budget, schedule, or preference, there are options to start exercising regularly and help reduce the chances of pain or injury. 


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