Sprain and strain injuries are a significant problem and source of injury in the maintenance, warehouse, trucking, and construction industry. Office workers can benefit from stretching and flexing muscles during sedentary and repetitive work periods. Strains and sprains involving the back, account for a major portion of all injuries and illness at work. Experience has proven that these injuries can be greatly reduced with proper physical conditioning and pre-work warm-up drills done as part of a Stretch and Flex Program.
Stretch and Flex Programs produce multiple physical and mental benefits that employees will enjoy outside of their workdays. These include enhanced agility and improved balance, coordination, circulation and flexibility along with reduced tension and stress.
Keys to a successful Stretch and Flex Program:
- Hold a short, no more than 10 minute, routine prior to a work shift. You can use a modified or reduced full movement if you have a previous injury or do what you can.
- Stretching is important in maintaining the muscle’s pliability. When a muscle shortens, the ability to perform a task involving that muscle decreases which can then increase the risk of injury. Stretching reduces tightness of the upper back, lower back, hamstrings, and calves can increase the risk of pain and injury to the spine.
- Stretches should be performed slowly and deliberately. Stretching allows the body to maintain the proper ergonomic position and decrease the risk of injury.
- Stretch, do not bounce until mild tension is felt. Hold the stretch position for 15 to 30 seconds. Then relax. Repeat stretches on the opposite side. Repeat the same stretch two or three times.
- Stretch until you feel mild tension. Never take a stretch past the point of tension strain or pain. If it hurts, stop and reduce the limits of the stretch. Remember, no quick or bouncy movements.
- Observe each other for “fit for duty”. If a coworker is having unusual difficulty, inform a supervisor.
- You can stretch and flex at any point during the day that is safe to do so. If during your work day you feel a pinch or pull you can utilize the stretch and flex movements to ease the strain, reduce stress after driving/working, and relax tight muscles.