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How You Can Ease Your ‘Tradie’s Back’ in 3 Simple Steps

June 12, 2017 by Procare

by Dr. Matthew Jakovljevic BSc (Clin Sci) MHs (Osteo) – Osteopath

‘Tradie’s back’ also know as mechanical back pain refers to pain coming from the spinal structures (such as joints, muscle, ligaments, discs and nerves). I’m yet to meet a tradie who hasn’t had some form of back pain.

In tradies the most common cause is years of hard yakka on the tools. All those years of lifting, twisting and hard physical work add up. And it is incredibly common, accounting for about 97% of back pain. (1) It doesn’t take long until it really starts to affect your life.

That’s why I’ve designed the following 3 steps to get you on top of your back pain. It is important to stay on top of that niggly back pain to keep on the tools or at work as long as you can. Sometimes that ‘she’ll be right’ attitude can be your worst enemy.

It’s so rewarding to see people make the shift and get pain free and reclaim their lives.

Of course, if you’ve had any significant back injuries or get any pain while doing these exercises, please seek advice from your healthcare provider before starting or continuing these exercises.

  1. Daily 5 minute stretching routine

    Movement helps to oil your joints. You wouldn’t try to drive your car without oil, so why do we try to run our bodies without it?! It only takes 5 minutes of basic stretches each day to start to see a change.

    Make sure to set aside this time each day to make it part of your daily routine.

    Start by rolling up a towel as shown and lying on the floor with a pillow behind your head and the towel vertical down your back with the top of the towel at the junction between your back at neck. Just lying there for 1 minute can feel awesome, then do 1 minute of ‘cheerleading’ arms to get the upper back moving and 1 minute of turning your neck side to side.Then switch the towel to horizontal over your low back and roll your knees side to side for 1 minute.

    Then any time you’ve got left over use a spikey ball/foam roller to do some self massage on anywhere you are feeling sore.


  2. Twice weekly 10 minute strength exercises

    The next step is to start to get some strength back into your joints and muscles. These specific strength exercises allow you to prevent injury to your back, making the daily grind that little bit easier. This is similar to keeping your petrol tank full. Again pick two days and times that will suit, so you don’t forget to do them. I’m going to give you three exercises, that you can do as a circuit. Repeat the circuit 3 times. Start by lying on your belly, with your hand at chest level. Roll your nose forward, followed by your neck, mid-back and then finally your low back, slowly lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times.

    Then lying on your back, slowly roll your bottom up into the air, until you on are on your shoulder blades, then ‘tractor tire’ your spine back down onto the floor (starting from the mid-back) Repeat 10-15 times.

    Staying lying on your back, bring both legs into the air, with the knees at 90 degrees. Keep your back flat on the floor, while slowly dropping one heel down to the ground (be careful to only move at the hip, keep the knee at 90 degrees)

  3. Hands on treatment when required

    Just like you would with stange noises in your car, getting a hands on treatment to assist in acute episodes or for your aches and pains can help you get back on track.

    The osteopaths at Procare use soft-tissue massage, muscle stretching, joint movement as well as joint manipulation (cracking) to start to get that stubborn back of yours moving. We can then provide you with some more specific exercises if they might be beneficial. Please note, the advice above is generalised and may not be specific to your situation. If in doubt please contact one of our osteopaths or another health care provider to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment of your condition.

Click here to book an appointment with myself or one of our other osteopaths at Procare Geelong


  1. Chien, J. J., & Bajwa, Z. H. (2008). What is mechanical back pain and how best to treat it?. Current pain and headache reports, 12(6), 406-411.

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