How to Implement a Workplace Stretching Routine

Stretching routines in the workplace are nothing new.  They have been popular in workplaces overseas for some time; however, is seems that in recent years there is a growing interest in these into North America. Implementation of such a program can be a great addition to your company’s overall strategy to improve worker health and safety.  Just like everything else, there are right and wrong ways to proceed when initiating a new program.  We will address some of the “wrong ways” in this post and hopefully enlighten you on what a successful program looks like.

Most of the time, when I walk into a company that has a preexisting stretching routine, it usually consists of outdated pictures that are blown up on a poster and plastered to the wall.  These posters look like they have been in existence for quite some time and the stacks of materials blocking half of them suggests that most of the employees have learned to ignore them.  Typically, there are 5-10 “static” upper body and lower body stretches listed.  If I am in the facility long enough to witness shift-change or return from lunch break, I sometimes get to witness these routines in action.  Almost always, I see a staff that is disengaged, led by a manager that is disengaged, and everyone is “halfway” performing stretches (or not all).  There is very little employee engagement, and judging by their body language, the staff doesn’t see the benefit in performing the routine.  Can you blame them?  Who would want to perform the same routine day-in and day-out for several years in a row with no engagement or education as to why this is of benefit to them?  Additionally, the employees are keenly aware that these exercises do not focus on specific physical demands of their position and do little to nothing to make them feel better at the end of the day.  So, in the example I just described, the company has a “routine” in place, but does anyone really benefit from it?  Is it just in place to look good when the corporate manager comes in to perform an audit?  Think of the revenue lost from an entire production floor wasting 5-10 minutes each shift to perform a routine that does nothing to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). That is up to 30 minutes of lost production time each day for a routine that does little to nothing!

I hope I have not discouraged you from implementing a program at your workplace. I am just attempting to point out that if it is not purpose driven, engaging and dynamic, your program will have limited success.  Making purposeful movement a part of daily work can be an extremely effective tool that WILL limit WMSDs if performed correctly.  I have listed 5 steps below that ensure the implementation of an impactful and engaging program:

  1. Get management on board!
    1. Nothing will be successful unless it is supported by upper-level management.  Additionally, ensure that the managers implementing the program with team members are educated on the importance of the program and believe in the importance of it.
  2. Make sure to partner with someone who has experience implementing workplace stretching routines.
    1. Utilize a professional that understands the physical requirements of the job and can design a routine that targets specific movement patterns.
  3. A good routine should not be just “stretching.” It should be more focused on improving movement through a variety of dynamic activities that target improving posture, stability and joint range of motion.
  4. Make sure the routine is realistic.
    1. It should fit nicely within established schedules and not negatively impact productivity.
  5. Make the rollout of the routine is a part of a larger initiative.
    1. Rolling out a new routine will receive greater staff buy-in if it is part of a larger program that is aimed at improving employee health and wellness.

We are excited to be bringing you a series of articles over the next 16 weeks that will discuss the elements of successful routines and provide you with 14 programs that are designed to improve the health of workers.  We hope that you follow along as we share this information for free to further our mission of putting workforces in motion!  Curious what we will be discussing?  I have a preview below for you:

Wednesday, July 15, 2020Elements of an Effective Workplace Warmup Routine
Wednesday, July 22, 2020Elements of an Effective Workplace Stretching Routine
Wednesday, July 29, 2020Upper Body Warmup Routine
Wednesday, August 5, 2020Lower Body Warmup Routine
Wednesday, August 12, 2020Upper Body Stretching Routine
Wednesday, August 19, 2020Lower Body Stretching Routine
Wednesday, August 26, 2020Upper Body Muscle Knot Routine (Myofascial Release)
Wednesday, September 2, 2020Lower Body Muscle Knot Routine (Myofascial Release)
Wednesday, September 9, 2020Neck Injury Prevention Routine (Prehab)
Wednesday, September 16, 2020Shoulder Injury Prevention Routine (Prehab)
Wednesday, September 23, 2020Back Injury Prevention Routine (Prehab)
Wednesday, September 30, 2020Hip Injury Prevention Routine (Prehab)
Wednesday, October 7, 2020Knee Injury Prevention Routine (Prehab)
Wednesday, October 14, 2020Foot & Ankle Injury Prevention Routine
Wednesday, October 21, 2020How to Improve Balance & Stability
Wednesday, October 28, 2020One Simple Move to Relieve Back Pain & Improve Posture

If I can be of any assistance to you or if you have any questions, please connect with me by your favorite platform below.  I would love to start a conversation!

#MUUVWell,

Kevin Winn B.S., CIEE, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

Kevin is the Executive Director of HealthWorks Kinesiology and is a Certified Industrial Ergonomic Evaluator (CIEE), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT).  Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion from Louisiana Tech University.

2 thoughts on “How to Implement a Workplace Stretching Routine”

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