Improve Your Stretch and Flex Program With This One Simple Change

December 22, 2015 | Danielle Browne

stretch and flex worksite stretching program.jpgPre-shift warm-ups, commonly referred to as “Stretch and Flex”, are becoming more and more widespread among industrial, manufacturing and construction sectors.

These programs began in an effort to better prepare employees for the physical aspects of their job and to decrease musculoskeletal injuries.

If your company has a program like this - congratulations! You’re doing the right thing for your employees. But do you know if the stretches being performed are the right ones? If you’re looking to get the most out of your stretching program, make sure the stretches are dynamic instead of static.

Is Static Stretching Really That Bad?

Most pre-shift musculoskeletal injury prevention programs, like Stretch and Flex, tend to focus on static stretching. Static stretches bring a muscle to its end range of motion. The stretch is then held for a prolonged period of time in an effort to increase range of motion.

Most of us are familiar with static stretches, like the sit-and-reach, from gym class or prior sports training. Because many Stretch and Flex programs are employee-led, these familiar static stretching poses are generally used.

While static stretching is useful, it’s not an appropriate activity when the body is “cold”. Your employees should be considered “cold” when arriving to work regardless of their shift start time.

At best, static stretching has minimal impact on your employees. At worst, it inhibits performance and can lead to injury.

You only have 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each shift to prepare your employees for their work day. Don’t you want to get the most out of that time by doing safer stretches that will produce greater results?

So What’s the Big Deal With Dynamic Stretches?

Dynamic stretches are different. A dynamic warm-up uses stretches that are "dynamic," meaning you move as you stretch.

These types of stretches also do a much better job of warming up your body’s core temperature. When performed properly, pre-shift stretching programs using dynamic stretches also increase awareness, improve coordination, elasticity and contractibility of muscles, and increase efficiency of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

As an added bonus, this improved conditioning also supports the overall health and wellness of the employee.

What a Dynamic Stretch Looks Like

Our Industrial Athlete Training Program (IATP) warm-ups contain dynamic stretches to address common trouble spots like the neck, shoulders, wrists, hips and ankles. The stretches vary from joint rotations to bodyweight-style exercises to active versions of traditional static stretches.

Vivecorp fitness specialist Leah, shown here, performs an active lat and triceps stretch.

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Here’s Vivecorp fitness specialist Chris performing a lawnmower.

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Making the Change

Adjusting your pre-shift stretching program may be as easy as working with a local physical therapist or certified personal trainer to redefine your program. If your warm-ups are employee-led, it’s important to communicate why changes to the program are being made and how those changes will positively impact the safety of everyone performing the warm-ups.

Vivecorp has created hundreds of customized, dynamic pre-shift client warm-ups. Contact us to learn more about how Vivecorp can help your employes.

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