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The Benefits of Stretching

- July 21, 2017 by Philip Bivens, CSP (View all posts by Philip)

Have you ever noticed that just before babies go to sleep, they often stretch? They do a full body—hands reaching as far as they can, toes pointed—all out stretch. Or perhaps you noticed that when animals get up they often stretch? Where did they learn that? The fact is that babies and animals innately do what is needed to protect their bodies, while we as adults have excuses as to why we don’t take care of ourselves like, “I’m too busy,” or “That will take too long.”

Common work-related soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains can often be prevented by a proper stretching routine. Stretching prepares the muscles for daily activity. This gives the body a chance to warm-up and gets the blood flowing. Professional athletes do not just walk onto the field, play their best game and go home. They have a whole warm up routine that includes stretching and movements to get the blood flowing. They want to ensure that their bodies are prepared for what they are about to do. So, why don’t we see employees stretching?  Many people move incorrectly because they have tight muscles or deconditioned muscles. Yet, flexibility and strength are crucial to most work tasks.

Benefits of a work related stretching routine include:

  • Increases the joint’s ability to move through a greater range of motions
  • Decreases tightness and resistance in tendons and muscles
  • Improves muscular balance and posture
  • Enhances muscle coordination

Employees in jobs that are prone to muscle strains and repetitive motions should prepare for the tasks they will be doing. They would benefit from stretching and warming up just as an athlete would. A basic warm up or pre-work stretch takes no more than 5-10 minutes. To get the motivated, encourage employees to set simple goals such as:

  • I will be able to touch my toes in two months
  • I will be able to bend over and tie my shoes
  • I will be able to balance on one leg

A proper stretching routine can be beneficial to both employees and employers. If a program is implemented correctly, it can lead to profitable results for companies and enhance the moral of the employees.