Because it improves strength and flexibility, yoga offers a way for construction Laborers to reduce their likelihood of sprains and strains on the job.

A series of twists, lunges, inversions and body bends that incorporates balance and breathing, yoga poses – they’re called asanas – stretch muscles as well as soft tissues like ligaments and tendons. Stretching improves flexibility, and being more flexible allows joints to move through their full range of motion. This reduces risk for injury when engaging in routine construction tasks. For example, the Big Toe Pose, which builds upper body strength, can make tying rebar less stressful. The Upward Salute, which promotes balance, can help remove the strain associated with installing drop-ceiling hangers. These and many other stretches are simple and can be done anywhere.

Yoga poses also release lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle use that leads to stiffness and pain. Lactic acid buildup is unavoidable; everything Laborers do – lifting, hoisting, reaching, carrying, even sitting – contributes to the build-up. Backaches, stiff necks, shoulder strains and tendinitis result, sometimes contributing to costly workers’ compensation claims. Yoga can relieve stiffness and pain, reducing lost workdays, containing health care expense and enhancing one’s overall quality of life.

Yoga has many styles and intensities and a good way to learn about them is to take a class. An instructor demonstrates poses and assists students with the various positions. Hatha yoga is good for beginners because of its slower pace and easier movements. Ashtanga is more physically demanding because it involves constant movement. Bikram – also known as Hot Yoga – is particularly good for anyone who does not want to give up the sweating that comes with most other forms of exercise. Bikram is the one form of yoga that incorporates heat and sweating, the idea being that doing so helps loosen tight muscles. Demonstrations of these and other yoga styles are also accessible online and available on videos and DVDs that can be purchased or borrowed from your local library.

Yoga’s many variations make it likely that regardless of age or physical ability, everyone can find a style to lead them toward better health. Since every yoga program is different, it’s a good idea to try several. Find the style that best suits your needs. A more limber, less injury prone and relaxed you awaits.


[Janet Lubman Rathner]