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As a farmer, you might feel like your work never ends. Taking care of your health may get pushed to the back of your mind. It is important to remember that having a strong body can reduce the risk of injuries and make the workload of farming more manageable.
Farming is a physically demanding job, but developments in technology and machinery means farming isn’t as active as it once was. Farmers are having longer stints sitting in tractors and headers, therefore at more risk of health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and muscle aches and pains. There are small, simple ways to increase your physical activity while on the farm. For example, you might park the ute further away from jobs and walk the rest of the way. You could do 5 minutes of stretches at the start of the day or when you’re sitting in the tractor.
The physical demands of farming can have a heavy toll on your joints, spine and nerves. Activities such as repetitively lifting heavy objects or animals, reacting to animals quickly, and jumping on and off machinery have potential to cause injuries. You can reduce the stress on your body by being mindful of your technique when lifting heavy loads and by organising your work area to minimise the amount of bending, lifting, and twisting required. Try spreading laborious work jobs throughout the day (rather than doing them all at once).
To reduce the risk of injuries from accidents, ensure all machinery is in good running order and you are using the right machine/vehicle for the job. Try to avoid jumping on and off machinery as this can put more pressure through your joints and spine.
If you have any concerns about your general and physical health, check in with your GP. Physiotherapists can give advice on lifting and manual task technique. There is some great information on farmer health on the National Centre for Farmer Health website.
This article was writing by Alannah Stevens, a 4th year physiotherapy student from ACU Ballarat, while on placement at Ararat Physio & Co. All photos used are sourced from Tucker Farms