Q: Should training be provided before starting a stretch program?
A: The best way to begin a warm-up and stretch program is to educate and train employees, as well as the personnel who will lead each workgroup stretch. When people understand why and how to properly stretch and stretch leaders are able to reinforce the many benefits of stretching, the likelihood of a stretch program being successful and sustainable increases significantly.
Q: How much time does stretching take?
A: An effective warm-up and stretch can be accomplished in 5-7 minutes in most situations.
Q: Should the warm-up program be a required part of the job?
A: This is an employer’s call, however, a well-designed program allows employees to prepare their body and mind for physical work demands, and protects your employees from suffering a potential costly and painful strain or other injury to their musculoskeletal system. The programs that we offer view warm-up and work readiness as an important and required aspect of the job. Stretch times are also a great time to communicate with team members.
Q: Is there a risk of injury from performing pre-shift stretching exercises?
A: There is potential risk for some employees if proper precautions are not taken when designing and implementing a program. We recommend implementing a complete and proven system designed by an injury prevention specialist. A stretch program is not something that you just throw together in a day or two. Proper training will ensure that risk is minimized. We also recommend that you read instructions and a warning disclaimer during training and the first few stretch sessions, and that you post the disclaimer on a wall where employees can easily see it.
Q: How should we respond if an employee claims that a stretch is causing discomfort or that they cannot perform one or more warm-up stretches?
A: One of the key points on your disclaimer should be “If you feel and discomfort or pain, stop the stretch, then speak to your supervisor.” Responding to an employee’s concern should be done with care and compassion. After the group has completed the stretch routine, talk to this employee, review safe stretch techniques and provide appropriate feedback, such as reducing intensity or decreasing the range of motion. Remember, if you are not a medical professional or a licensed healthcare or treatment provider, limit your advice and follow your organization’s reporting policies at all times. Remind employees that stretching is not a contest. Each stretch is performed at a low level of intensity and employees control their own range of motion and intensity.
Q: Will a stretch program truly be accepted by our employees?
A: We hear this question often. Although there is almost always some initial doubt and resistance at first, our 30 years of experience has shown us that a good warm-up and stretch program will be accepted and appreciated by the vast majority of employees. The key lies in effective leadership. When surveyed, employees always report that they physically and mentally feel better and that the pre-shift warm-up and stretch program is effective in preparing their body for work.
Don’t let a couple of negative responses discourage you from doing the right thing for your employees. As long as your leadership is passionate about the prevention of injuries and a proven system is used, your employees will appreciate that your organization is investing the time for the benefit of each employee’s personal health and safety. If your warm-up stretch program was designed by someone in the purchasing department who used to play a sport, credibility of the program will no doubt be questioned and acceptance may be a challenge.
Q: Will employees treat a stretch program seriously?
A: If leadership treats your stretch program seriously, employees will also treat it seriously. As you know, there are cynics in almost every workgroup that may attempt to make fun at others and undermine the program. Do not allow this to happen. This is a management issue that must be addressed without hesitation. In companies where leadership is passionate about the health and safety of employees, is where we see the most success with workplace stretching and the prevention of injuries.
Warm-Up & SAFE Stretch Solutions
Accurate Ergonomics offers comprehensive stretch program packages that can be purchased online. Click here to learn more: www.accurateergonomics.com/packages.
Contact Accurate Ergonomics at 707.894.4544 (CA), 1.866.950.3746 (ERGO), or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our proactive human efficiency and injury prevention training solutions.