Monday, July 23, 2018

Occupational Strength and Health - By Burt Gam

One of the the most neglected aspects of weight training and conditioning is he topic of occupational health and wellness. As a 35 year career postal employee I can personally attest  to this. Postal workers and workers in many industries perform hard physical labor routinely for 40 or more hours a week for years on end with just short interruptions for vacations and other scheduled or sick days off. These industries employ a wide variety of workers who sacrifice their bodies and health at times to make a living and provide necessary services we all depend on if not take for granted. Many of these employees are given 'safety" training on how to lift properly during orientations by some pre-elected  human resource employee who may never have lifted a weight in their life other than perhaps performing "beer curls". They are given safe advice on how to lift with your stronger leg muscles to avoid back injuries. In some cases workers are issued back braces to help provide lumbar support. They are told to remain "for for duty" throughout their careers and then turned lose to fend for themselves. Rather than providing real help and training that would be truly beneficial it seems more geared to removal of company liability for injuries of workers. To be fair,some more progressive companies have taken the steps to provide gym on-site exercise and wellness programs or perhaps gym memberships which is a step in the right direction but may still fall short of providing useful help or training in proper exercise performance. The focus tends to be about injury prevention as it relates to list work days. Since injuries are often related to overuse , lack of muscular strength and flexibility plus poor lifting .mechanics, certainly something is lacking.                                                    
                                                         Enter the Worker Athlete 
The first concept about physical labor and it's relationship to strength is simple but vital to understand. A person who performs physical labor in a regular basis will become only physically strong enough to meet the requirements of job performance.That is, simply put if your job requires you to lift or move 50 pounds daily over a given period of time, you will only become strong enough to lift or move 50 pounds, regardless of how many times you do it. You may move or lift more once or twice but that is a different topic. Your body will only allow you to get strong enough to do your job based on a lack of progressive overload. The body only becomes strong enough to accomplish the task(s) that are demanded of it. And this worker will be performing work at 100% capacity. But suppose this worker decided to start a weight training    program and through hard training developed enough strength to lift 100 pounds. Now the lifter returns to work and now lifts the 50 pound weight. The worker is now working at 50% capacity.The weight will seem considerably lighter. The net effect is the workers job becomes much easier to perform. And very likely the workers chances of injury drops drastically because he has literally become twice as strong as necessary to perform the job! He will go home less tired and fatigued. Perhaps with enough reserve energy left to perform an exercise program. It is a win-win.This worker will possibly even receive recognition for job performance due to higher work production. He will likely  have fewer sick days. Couple a basic resistance training with some flexibility work and perhaps light cardio to round out the program. It seems clear to me that the laborer and the athlete are highly correllated. The same factors that make an athlete great makes the Worker great! These things are increased strength,flexibility and overall conditioning. A worker sacrifices their bodies just liked an athlete and are paid to do so. They get injured. They are required to perform under similar harsh conditions day in and day out.Their bodies are subjects to similar stresses. Increased strength and conditioning and injury prevention is vital for optimal performance for both. Therefore, does it not follow that both should train for the same results, perhaps in a similar fashion? Designing a sensible program for the Worker to increase strength, endurance, flexibility and overall conditioning.To increase productivity and longevity.That is how I made it through 35 years of physical labor.Something to think about.

Editors Note: Welcome Back Burt! Good article.
Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

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