Working outdoors in the blazing hot sun in the summer and freezing cold in the winter requires a
special type of person.
Someone who is not only physically strong but mentally as well.
As with any type of job, there comes risk of injury.
And construction workers are notorious for developing elbow pain.
Especially on the outer part of their elbow.
So why is this?
Before we get to the reasons why…
It is important to know that you can still continue doing construction work as you
recover from your elbow pain as long as you can take 5 minutes every other
day to perform some very simple exercises.(We`ll get to that in a minute)
The first thing to do, is to locate the exact location of your elbow discomfort and pain.
For the majority of individuals, the pain will be on the outside of your elbow.
Usually right above the pointy, small bone on the outer part of your elbow.
The name of this elbow injury is tennis elbow.
It is when the extensor tendon that attaches at your elbow becomes irritated, inflamed and/or torn.
This condition almost never happens overnight.
It takes time to develop, where is starts out as a dull pain and progressively gets worse as time goes by.
Now just because it is referred to as tennis elbow, does not mean it only affects those who play the sport.
The absolute only reason why it has this name is because the first ever reported case of tennis elbow was from an individual who played tennis.
So why is construction work considered a high risk activity for developing tennis elbow?
Let`s simply take a look at the mechanics.
For example, a construction worker uses hand tools on a daily basis.
The constant holding, squeezing and gripping of these tools combined with the required force and exertion puts a lot of strain on your forearm extensors and muscles.
Then there is the impact of striking your hammer on a hard surface.
The shock and reverberations that are send from the head of the hammer and absorbed at your elbow are enormous.
Think about how many times a day you strike your hammer!
All this force has to get absorbed somewhere – and that somewhere is the soft tissues in your forearm and elbow.
Pushing through your elbow pain is not advised.
As you can cause even more damage to your elbow extensors muscles and tendon.
But here is the thing …
Most people who work with their hands day in and day out do not even
give a second thought of how often they open and close their hand on a
Think about how often you pick up and grip your hammer, screwdriver, saw, or any other power tool on a daily basis. The number is easily over 500 times per day.
While power tools can make your job easier and allow you to work faster ….
They are almost always heavier which requires a tighter grip for extended periods of time.
So what can you do?
As with all of the other repetitive strain injuries, taking frequent breaks is best advised.
And when you are working on a construction site in the blazing summer sun, this is quite easy to do.
A short 5 minute pause every 45 mins will help decrease your pain and inflammation.
Take a look at the construction tools you are using on a daily basis.
Are they old and worn out?
Sure you may have some sentimental attachment to them but if they are old, they are probably not the most ergonomical.
I am willing to bet there is a more elbow friendly version on the market that you can buy.
And chances are, it will be covered by your health insurance.
In the majority of construction workers with elbow pain, they are using the wrong size of hammer.
Not only weight wise but the handle is also too large or small based on the size of your hand.
Using a hammer where the handle is too large based on your hand size will cause you to over squeeze.
This forces you to use a very strong grip to control and use the hammer.
Again overtime, this will cause inflammation and irritation of your forearm extensors and eventually tearing of your extensor tendon.
If your hammer handle is too small, you will be over-gripping. The same rule applies as when using a hammer with handle to large – over-gripping.
Here is a good article to check out https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/choosing-the-best-hammer/
Older hammers are made of steel.
Newer, more ergonomic hammers are made from titanium.
New hammers are lighter, more ergonomical and have rubber handles and are elbow friendly.
Chances are with more efficient tools, you will be more productive and stay healthy longer.
In the evening you will be more fresh and have more energy to spend time with your family and/or
do sports and hobbies you perhaps had to give up on due to elbow pain.
Meaning less shock absorbed at your elbow and less strength required to use your hammer.
This may sound like something trivial but over months and years it will decrease your chances of a severe injury and eliminate the chances of you having to quite your job and change careers.
A third tip is to switch up your role on the site.
Take a break from using your tools and maybe do a little on site clean up.
There is always garbage kicking around on construction sites.
Use this time as an opportunity to give your elbow a rest.
Even moving materials around and unloading trucks will take some strain off your elbow.
Another tip to consider is to take an ice pack with you to the job site.
Apply ice to your affected elbow at least twice during your working day and once in the morning when you wake up.
But here is what you must understand…
It is not as simple as just applying ice to your elbow.
You must NEVER apply ice directly to your skin.
Always have a barrier between your skin and the ice.
If you do not have any ice cubes available, a great option is to use
a bag of frozen veggies.
I recommend you ice your affected elbow before you go to work for 10 mins
and then at least twice on the job site.
Once you have implemented icing your elbow, what should your next steps be?
Having your elbow injury diagnosed by your Doctor is never a bad idea but …
If your Family Doctor is like most Family Doctors, he/she do not specialize
in repetitive strain injuries such as tennis elbow.
If you have to go to a specialist Doctor, this can be costly – especially if
you do not have medical insurance.
But here is some good news!
To fully overcome your tennis elbow injury and continue working as a construction
worker, there are just 5 simple, easy-to-follow steps that you can follow
and implement right now at home.
And the best part …
You don`t have to quit your job or throw hundreds of dollars at treatments that
are not guaranteed to work.
I have put together a simple 5 step video tutorial to show you just how easy it is to