Following the trend towards promoting an injury free workplace, many construction teams have begun to incorporate “Stretch and Flex” programs into their days. The idea behind one of these programs is to loosen the muscles used most frequently on the job site before actually beginning work that requires heavy lifting or strenuous activity. These programs have been found to help keep workers injury-free on the job site. One team which found this kind of routine useful was the Skanska USA Building Company. You can see how they use the “Stretch and Flex” routine here.
Creating a “Stretch and Flex” program can seem daunting to some construction team leaders, but the following example will make the process seem less difficult. The benefits from an injury free work environment make an effective “Stretch and Flex” program a must in the modern workplace.
Lower Body Warm-up
- The walking lunge with arms extended upwards. This movement should be performed slowly and with a full range of motion. The walking lunge will get the blood flowing to areas such as the hamstrings and quadriceps.
- The side lunge is a variation on the walking lunge which targets the hip flexors and groin muscles. This movement is completed by stepping to one side in a lateral fashion. A gentle stretching sensation should be present on the inside of the upper leg during this activity. The groin and hip flexors are prone to injury when heavy lifting is done without a warm-up or stretching routine, because of this they are areas which are vital to target in any “Stretch and Flex” routine.
Upper Body Warm-up
- The shoulder area is often problematic for those who lift heavy objects. This makes it an important area to target during your “Stretch and Flex” routine. A good way to stretch and loosen the muscle tissue in the shoulder is to do an arm crossover. This movement is completed by moving the arm across the front of the body and using the other arm to hold the arm being stretched, tight against the front of the body. The process should then be repeated with the arm that was holding the first arm.
- Arm circles are a good way to get the blood flowing in the upper body and prepare muscle tissue for heavy lifting on the job. This movement is performed by holding the arms out horizontally from the body and by rotating them in wide circles. This should be performed in a slow and controlled manner.
This example of a possible “Stretch and Flex” routine, although simple, can help prevent muscle tissue injuries on the job when performed correctly. Construction sites can be dangerous places, and because of this, it is important to reduce the risk of injury as much as possible. Muscle injuries in the back, legs, and upper body are far less likely to occur if the necessary steps have been taken to warm-up the body prior to any strenuous physical exertion.
Try this with your team and let us know what you think!