December 18, 2012
This article was first published a year ago and is dedicated to the men and women that help build and maintain this country. Thanks for the hard work you do on our behalf.
According to Wikipedia, “A tradesman is a skilled manual worker in a particular trade or craft.” Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and many other tradesmen go to work every day building and maintaining the structures we live and work in. Without them, we would all be in trouble.
Unfortunately, tradesmen often destroy their own physical beings while servicing and building our abodes. Equally sad is the fact that the tradesman’s main tool is his own body; and when his body can no longer take the abuse of his job, he is out of business, left to retire too soon for his own good.
While treating just such a tradesman today, it dawned on me that his job was comparable to that of a professional athlete. His job, much like any contact sport, involved regular collisions of brick and steel against flesh. His lungs were assaulted on a daily basis by concrete dust and various work site debris. Unfortunately for him, a knee injury has terminated his career much before his prime.
What makes my tradesman different from the professional athlete is the thought and care given to maintaining the athlete’s own physical self in order to stay in the game. Professional athletes have trainers who help them develop physically and emotionally to maintain peak performance. Professional athletes have warm up exercises and stretching routines to prepare them for their day’s work. At the end of their work day, they have cool down routines. They have trainers and coaches to review the work they did and help them do it better and safer.
While professional athletes realize that their bodies are their job, tradesmen do not. While athletes know they have a limited time to play the game, tradesman assume they will last forever. Tradesmen train by watching the Bears. Their warm up routine is usually a cup of Java and a donut. Stretching, warm-up; I don’t think so. They jump in and start pulling and pushing and loading and unloading, pounding, sawing, and all kind of other violent acts. Their cool down routine is often a beer at the local pub on the way home.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a few tradesmen who eat right and exercise, taking care to keep their bodies in great shape. Most don’t. Most are also at a loss when their bodies falter, break, and are not repairable. It is sad to see a carpenter’s lungs fail due to years of inhaling dust, especially when a cheap mask could have filtered out 99% of the crap he inhaled.
I admire tradesmen for their hard work and dedication. I work hard to serve as their trainer, teaching them how to avoid injury and disease. Comparing them to pro-athletes sometimes helps them understand how important it is to prepare physically for the demands of their jobs. Unfortunately, many look at me like I’m nuts!
If you work in the trades, realize that, without your body, you are jobless. Warm up in the morning prior to working. Learn to stretch. Ice down at night. Wear a mask when around pollutants. If there is dust on your clothes, it’s in your airway. Most of all, eat right, exercise, and maintain your body as if you were a pro-athlete. You may not make millions but your “Wellth” depends on it!
Dr Segal blogs at www.livewellthy.org and is the author of "Diets and Other Unnatural Acts."