As the daughter of a very proud Electrician I've seen first hand how physically and mentally demanding the job is. Whether its the early 4 am starts or post-midnight clock-offs, the job is long, tiring and at times causes some serious aches and pains.
As I watched my father over the years deal with these pains my heart exploded with pride as I noticed his dedication to his trade. I silently promised to help him in whatever way possible and that included me joining him on many a physiotherapy sessions. I'd love to take this opportunity to share with you the best at-home stretches that really helped him to loosen stiff muscles, but also general tips about how to lessen your chances of injury (whether physical or mental) as you go about your day to day job!
1. Lower Back physical pains : Bottom to Heel
Start: Kneel on all fours and keep your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Try to keep your back and neck in line, loose and fairly straight, and don't lock your elbows.
Action: Slowly move your bottom back towards your heels. Hold the stretch for one deep breath and return to the starting position.
Repeat 8 times. Make sure you keep a slow and controlled motion. Don't flop down onto your feet.
2. Preventative action: Stretching
At every session we went to together and with every doctor he saw he was always told countless times that the best way to avoid sprains or pulling a muscle was to stretch every single morning before work.
As electricians you'll need to be able to fit into tight and awkward spaces. That means you need to stay limber and flexible! I promise that if you spend 5 minutes every morning doing some deep stretching before a job you'll notice the difference like my dad did.
Here are some good morning stretches:
a) Overhead stretch
Extend your arms over your head, Take 4 deep relaxing breathes and between each breathe try hard to stretch your hands just that bit further up and your toes pointing just that bit further downward. You should be alternating between tension and relaxation between breathes.
b) Knees to chest
Bring both of your knees to your chest by pulling on the back of your thighs. Don't raise or strain your neck, its important to stay relaxed. Take in four deep breathes and simply hold in this position with a light stretch.
3. Learn to lift
It might seem bizarre however most people don't realise that they are lifting items with poor and improper posture. With lighter items the risk of injury is reduced, but items weighing anything above a power tool has the ability to do some serious damage. So make sure you follow these tips on how to lift and stick to them!
As a general rule of thumb, not matter what you are lifting you should never bend forward. Bend your knees and squat down and make sure you are close to whatever you are picking up. Once you have a safe grip on the item lift through your legs by straightening them. You should find your head stays straight with your back and you are not cranking your neck back to maintain eye contact with the load.
(Tip: Don't lift anything heavy above your shoulders. If you need to reach that height with a load use a step ladder to help you maintain your posture!)
4. Meditation and relaxation
Just like after a long work out it is important you allow your body and mind some recovery time.
For my father I used to encourage him to spend 15 minutes every evening in his room alone, listening to some classical music I compounded together for him. I told my siblings and mother to make a point of not entering the room during this time and thanks to me having a renowned temper and vicious upper cut punch my siblings all knew too well, they agreed to leave him be.
He entertained the idea mainly because he has always respected my ideas. I understand there will inevitably be some bias but he swore that these 15 minutes did the world of good for his mind.
It is no wonder why either. Between the constant barrage of bad news via social media, radio or TV or the stresses of the normal day to day job, he rarely allowed his mind time to recover. Your brain is a muscle too and it needs time to recover too.
If any of the above helps any of you hard-working tradesmen out there then that would be the best news! Do let me know if they do help or if you have any other tips to share with your fellow tradesman by commenting below!
Happy Belated New Year everyone - lets make it a good one!