Does Stretching Prevent Work Injuries?

Pre-Work Stretching

The number of workplace injuries has been on the rise in recent years. And while there are many factors that can contribute to this, one area that is often overlooked is stretching.

Many people believe that stretching before work can help prevent injuries, but is this actually true? Let’s look at the evidence and see if stretching can help reduce workplace injuries.

Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Injuries in the Workplace.

Musculoskeletal injuries (MSDs) are a pervasive problem in today’s workplaces, with costly consequences for employees and employers. Though MSDs can occur anywhere, they are most commonly associated with jobs requiring physical activity or uncomfortable postures, such as manual labor or desk work. Of note, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded that MSDs accounted for 30% of all nonfatal workplace injuries resulting in days away from work in 2018. (1) Many of these injuries are caused by repetitive motion and force, leading to micro-tears that accumulate over time and manifest as neck pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.

As well as being time-consuming for medical staff to treat, workplace MSDs also impede productivity due to absenteeism and decreased performance among those affected. In light of this high prevalence rate, it is crucial that companies prioritize injury prevention strategies such as ergonomic furniture adjustments and ensuring adequate job training – not just because of the legal implications but because the health and well-being of their workforce should be paramount. Keeping these measures in mind will help ensure a safer working environment while avoiding future losses due to MSI-related absences.

Does stretching actually prevent injuries from happening in the first place?

Adequate stretching is often recommended to people who are embarking on strenuous physical activity, but does it actually help prevent injuries in the first place? Well, the answer isn’t straightforward.

While stretching certainly has its advantages, especially in terms of increasing range of motion and flexibility, it’s unclear whether or not it’s an effective way of preventing injury.

pre-work stretching prevent injury

Some research suggests that while static stretching (holding a stretch for a certain period of time) may reduce muscle soreness and lower the risk of acute injuries such as strains or sprains, it doesn’t appear to be very effective at protecting against more serious overuse injuries or chronic conditions. (2)

On the plus side, some studies have found that dynamic stretching (stretches involving active movement) may be better suited for improving neuromuscular coordination and reducing the risk of acute injury.

Ultimately, though regular stretching should still be part of any pre-activity warm-up routine, relying solely on stretches to prevent injuries could be misguided often leading individuals astray from seeking proper advice and guidance from health professionals.

Importantly, if you feel any pain while doing stretches then you should seek professional advice as soon as possible.

Stretching can still be beneficial when done correctly in healthy individuals! It’s just important to have realistic expectations and not rely entirely on static stretches when it comes to preventing injuries.

The Right Warm-up Before Work

Whether you are an aspiring athlete or an industrial athlete, warming up your body before beginning any physical activity is essential for preventing injury and getting the most out of your performance.

Warming up doesn’t have to be complicated — a few dynamic stretches can do wonders. A good warm-up begins by making sure the muscles are loose. Start by focusing on common areas like the neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs should be done gently and without overexertion.

A few examples of some dynamic stretches would be leg swings or arm circles to activate the muscles. Incorporating a few short bouts of this kind of warm-up regularly before a shift begins and after any break can help prevent injury and improve both physical performance and mental focus throughout the day. Taking just a few short moments to warm up before work can make all the difference!

Related: Pre-work Warm Up

pre-work stretching prevent injury

Conclusion

Workplace musculoskeletal injuries are a huge problem, costing businesses billions of dollars every year. They can cause untold amounts of suffering for employees, and often lead to lost productivity. However, there are measures that businesses can take to reduce the risk of these injuries. Implementing ergonomic furniture adjustments and ensuring adequate job training are two key preventative measures. Additionally, making sure that employees warm up regularly can help reduce the likelihood of an injury occurring in the first place.

Stretching was once believed to be the gold standard for injury prevention, however, more recent research has suggested that dynamic stretching is actually the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of injury. Ultimately, it’s important for businesses to take steps to protect themselves and their employees from workplace injuries in order to avoid future losses due to MSI-related absences.

Taking a few moments for a warm-up before work can make all the difference!

Contact WorkSafe Physical Therapy to find out how we can help your company today!


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