Putting the Health of The Farmer First

DR. LACHLAN WESTWOOD (OSTEOPATH)

Many farmers don’t have the luxury of time, or short distances to travel, for the treatment of problematic ails. It’s the common story that their multiple complaints have existed for so long that it no longer matters whether they seek solutions or not. It’s “just buggered”, has “always been buggered”, and “no bugger can fix them”. The saying that a farmer’s symptoms change as regularly as the weather and that aches and pains are nothing that a cold beer can’t fix.

The concept of doing something for themselves is as rare as a good rain, and they’ll usually find any excuse under a hot sun to put themselves last. Treating this demographic is exactly what drew me to the profession in the first place. I come from a farming background, and understand that it’s a devotion of time and effort day-in, day-out, that involves predominately manual labour and putting the body through the extremes of prolonged sitting, poor posture, and awkward positions on a daily basis.

“Ultimately, the farmer tends to put their health last, and rarely puts time aside for themselves. It’s always early mornings and late finishes. There’s always a bloke to see, a paddock to spray, or a truck to load. Then, at the end of the day, footy training with the boys or the pub is the only thing in sight.”

 

It’s a passion for farming communities and their people that have led CMO and its osteopaths down Mallee tracks to offer Osteo Outreach services in small rural towns. On the map so far – Robinvale, Birchip, Ouyen, Kerang, Sea Lake, Boort, Berriwillock, Manangatang, and Woomelang. When and where people have been restricted in their ability to travel, we have been providing services closer to home. This takes away a significant amount of the stress related to having to down the tools, with a hands-on allied health approach that encourages farmers to give osteopathy a try.

“At first, some simple hands-on therapy and direct care can do wonders when given the chance on a farmer estranged to manual therapy. A realisation that with some commitment to a treatment plan, that they may in fact start to approach and find solutions for long-term pain they thought wasn’t worth the attention.”

Farmers tend to complain mostly of lower back pain. This commonly comes from muscling heavy loads, lifting machinery, dragging and shearing sheep, and sitting for endless hours during cropping, spraying, and harvest times for example. There is also an increased incidence of knee osteoarthritis, neck and shoulder pain, as well as wrist and finger injuries.

Along with a thorough hands-on approach to help condition a farmer back to some flexibility and mobility, an osteopath will provide some strength exercises to help combat the day-to-day stress and heavy continuous loads placed on the farmer’s body (sparingly enough of course for the farmer to remember). Stretches and self-treatment strategies will also be explained so that the farmer has some ideas about how to make themselves feel better before they jump out of bed, when pulling their boots on, or whilst sitting in the cab of the tractor. And last but not least, giving some advice on all the silly things farmers can avoid to make life easier. Negotiables, non-negotiables, when a farmer should say no or ask for help, or simply adding more regular breaks or a different approach to whatever farming activity is causing the most grief.

So here’s cheers to the farmer – you’re worth it. Get the wife to book if you need, write it on the dash of the ute, and don’t forget!

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