The Benefits of Stretching at Work (Posters Included)
Employees Should Be Trained on Muscle Safety
We have risk management programs, safety glasses, hard hats, and reflective work vests, but where are the programs for muscle safety? We move, we work, we achieve, but we leave our muscles behind.
America, together we laughed at yoga and pilates. We were mystified by the balance ball and many other fitness products. But, years later, we came to embrace all of these trends and products.
So now what? Something even simpler: stretching. You may be laughing now, but later you will see the wisdom of these exercises. We have been empowered with new fitness programs. Now, we need a revolution in the workplace!
America needs a competitive advantage. What if there was a method to reduce injuries and encourage exercise without substantial investment? Good news, we have the solution! Through athletic programs and extensive research, we have learned the value of stretching.
An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.— Jack Welch (Retired CEO of General Electric)
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching helps protect our muscles. Unfortunately, stretching has not yet taken a foothold in U.S. workplaces. The time for change is upon us!
Here are some motivational and instructional posters to encourage stretching. I provide specific examples of three types of stretches: static, dynamic, and a new type of cutting-edge stretching called AIS (active isolated stretching).
Stretching on a daily basis can provide a competitive edge in the workplace because it has the power to prevent injuries, save money, and make work more enjoyable (both physically and mentally).
Even more benefits:
- Increased ability to perform everyday tasks at work, home, and play.
- Provides a mental break from the work routine, resulting in reduced stress.
- Decreased risk of musculoskeletal disorders/cumulative trauma disorders.
- Less joint wear and tear, and reduced osteoarthritis joint stiffness and pain.
- Improved reaction time, balance, and better posture.
- Reduced muscle fatigue and soreness.
- Decreased risk of joint stiffness and/or lower back, neck, shoulders, knees, hips, elbows, wrists, and hand pain.
- More energy resulting from increased blood supply and nutrients to muscles, tendons, and joints.
Stretching Can Pay Dividends in the Work Environment
The American workplace ranges from large offices to large manufacturing settings and the majority of these sites now offer a comprehensive risk management program. Often the issuance of the safety manual is standard practice. The reason for this was high worker's compensation claims, and yet we have not considered stretching a solution to inefficiency.
Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person (not just an employee) are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.— Anne M. Mulcahy
Stretching Is the Best Investment
Stretching is the best investment an individual and an employer can make. America needs to regain its competitive edge. We all need to stand up and stretch to feel better about ourselves and our job. A happy and healthy employee will do better work and will be more likely to stay onboard with the company. What can employers do to encourage stretching?
Posters can train and motivate us to stretch daily. Stretching daily will improve our productivity. Stretching prevents injuries and also serves to activate both our muscles and our endorphins. Join me and see firsthand some great stretching posters for you to add to your workplace today!
New research suggests that a warm-up may be better for preventing injuries. As an added bonus, physical activity in the workplace has proven to increase mental productivity and creativity.
Types of Stretching
The purpose of this article is not to detail the many types of stretching exercises available, but rather to offer the many benefits of stretching with the added bonus of some specific examples to consider.
Please find in the table below, a summary of three types of stretching. Be aware that there are several more types of stretches that we will not cover.
Involves holding a position
Excellent to improve flexibility, often used in cool downs
Involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both
Slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)
Involved precise exericse to isolate muscles
Quick stretches no more than 2-3 seconds
What's the Best Type of Warm-Up?
The NY Times reported that jumping jacks and soldier kicks might be a better alternative to static stretches. These exercises are called "dynamic warm-ups" and serve to not just stretch our muscles but to get our heart pumping, too.
Dynamic stretching is recommended after a 3-5 minute cardio warm-up. The goal is not the length of strides and muscle extension but the quickness of movements. So, for example, when performing high knees or butt kickers, seek quickness more than muscle extension.
Examples of Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises:
- High knees
- Butt kickers
- Side kicks
- Arm circles
Components of Cutting-Edge Stretches
A pre-workout stretching session will allow you to work even harder but with less of a chance of tearing a muscle or straining your back or a joint.
Here are the components that make these stretches cutting edge:
- Completeness - full body workout
- Quickness - video only takes 2 minutes
- Simplicity - anyone and everyone can do this routine daily
Cutting-Edge Stretches - AIS Stretches
Beyond static and dynamic stretching is AIS stretching (commonly referred to as "cutting-edge"). AIS stands for "active isolated stretches". Active isolated stretches work well for both pre-workouts and also for physically demanding jobs.
To get us started is a video by Peter Carvelle of Six Pack Factory.
What I like about Carvelle's video is its completeness, simplicity, and quickness. These are the components that we all seek for easy exercise. The stretches in the video are very quick but controlled and, in only a few minutes, you will have touched upon all the major muscle groups you will be working on in your next activity.
Stretching workout summary:
- Controlled movements (not ballistic)
- Do stretch two to three seconds then relax
- Do six reps on each side
- Do for each muscle group
- Do before your workout or activity
If you want better results, give this new stretching routine a try.
Stretch for Safety, Mental Stability, the Body, and the Soul
A proper stretching program (overseen by a fitness professional to get you started on the right track) will pay dividends, not just in your worker's compensation but also in your employee morale.
Stretching will not only help your employees' muscles and prepare them for hard work (or sometimes mental labor) but will showcase your concern for their mental and physical welfare. In the workplace, it is the details that make you a better leader.
Do the right thing and start a stretching program today at your workplace. Take the first step and order a fun, colorful poster to visibly show your commitment to stretching for safety.
Share Your Thoughts
Do you have stretching posters in your work place? If not, are you motivated to invest in a few good posters to help the physical health of your workers? If you do have motivational stretching posters in your work place, please share your success stories.
What Do You Think?
Can stretching improve our worker's safety and productivity?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2014 Kelly A Burnett