Dynamic Stretching Promotes Safety for Workers

Stretching is commonly used for therapeutic reasons and to elicit increased flexibility. Some of the benefits of stretching include recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness (typically 24-48 hours after intense activity), reduced muscle tension, and increased range of motion (ROM).

There are various types of stretches: dynamic, static, ballistic, PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), and passive.

Unfortunately, what most people do not know is that isolated static stretching immediately before exercise/work may impair a person's strength and power and has no effect on injury prevention. (Fields et al. 2007)[1]

Prior to performing our work, the goal is to warm up muscles and joints and prepare the nervous system. A dynamic warm-up is one that incorporates all the necessary components of stretching without losing anything. Dynamic stretches are rhythmic exercises that gently take you through the limits of your range of motion. They are similar to ballistic stretches except there is a controlled movement, not a jerky one (e.g., toe touches and bouncing to reach the floor).

Dynamic Stretch List

  1. Wrist Rotations:
  • Stand in place, feet placed at a normal stance with arms straight at the side
  • Make a fist with each hand, and rotate at the wrist, turning your fist clockwise with your left hand; and counterclockwise with your right.
  • After 10-12 repetitions, reverse the rotation (i.e. counterclockwise with left, clockwise with right) and perform additional 10-12 repetitions.
  1. Arm Circles:
  • Stand in place, feet placed about shoulder width apart with arms extended straight out to your sides
  • Begin by rotating the entire arm forward in a circular fashion.  Circles can be made small or large, try to find something that is right in the middle.
  • After 10-12 repetitions, reverse the movement and perform circular motions going backwards.
  1. Arm Swings:
  • Begin in standing position, feet placed at a comfortable stance, arms placed straight at sides
  • Raise both arms straight out to the sides, allowing for a natural bend at the elbow
  • With arms relatively straight, now, swing both arms inward simultaneously so as to ‘criss-cross’ across the chest
  • From the arms crossed position, extend arms back to their starting position out towards your side
  • Repeat this motion for 10-12 repetitions
  1. Trunk Twists:
  • Stand with your feet at shoulder width and your knees slightly bent.

-     Place your hands in front of you with palms facing away from you (as if you're about to push something away).

-     Twist your torso to the left, until your face (and hands) are facing in the opposite direction. (Don't force yourself to go too far - you don't want to injure yourself.).

-     Now twist all the way around to the right.

-     Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you've completed the 10-12 repetitions

  1. Trunk Side Bends –
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, both arms straight at your sides
  • Begin by placing your left hand on nearest hip.  Your right arm should remain straight, with fingers extended.  Bend at the waist towards your right side, imagining trying to touch your right hand to the ground.  Stop once you can no longer extend out to your side; and return to starting position
  • Repeat procedure for 10-12 repetitions, then switch sides and perform side bends with your left arm extended.
  • *Remember – you should not be bending forwards or backwards, but rather straight out to your side.
  1. Half-Squat:
  • Stand tall with good posture holding your hands out in front of you for balance
  • Now bend at the knees until your thighs are at 45° with the floor
  • Keep your back long throughout the movement, and look straight ahead
  • Make sure that your knees always point in the same direction as your toes
  • Once at your lowest point, fully straighten your legs to return to your starting position
  • Repeat the exercise sixteen times with a smooth, controlled rhythm
  • Breath in as you descend, and out as you rise
  • 10-12 repetitions

Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body while gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both. It does not involve stopping and holding the stretched position. There is, no bobbing, bouncing, or jerky movements. The movements should be controlled throughout the range of motion despite being quick. Repeat: The stretch is not sudden, it is CONTROLLED AND FLUID!

Daily Pre-Stretching Tips

  1. Start your workday off at the jobsite with a series of dynamic stretches. Gather your crew in a safe location and have everyone stand with enough distance apart from one another.
  2. Perform the daily stretches before you go over the JSA/tailgate meeting with your crew.  Not only are we delivering blood to the muscles when we perform these stretches, but we are delivering blood to the brain!  Workers will be more alert and have better attentiveness if they are pre-engaged with some stretching.
  3. Use the daily stretches as a way to assess worker capabilities and to evaluate the condition of each and every worker from day-to-day.
  4. Beyond stretching – stretching is an effective and efficient way to warm-up your workers each and every day at the jobsite-but it is not the only way.  By planning your work and having your workers perform lighter tasks for the first 10-15 mins before moving to heavier tasks, you are accomplishing many of the same things that you are with a dynamic stretch series.
  5. Pass it on! – Pass on what you have learned and practiced.  Encourage other contractors to join you one morning; if others ask you about the particular routine you doing, offer help and instruct them.  By passing it on you ensure that these safe ideas and practices will go beyond your own employees and add to the knowledge of everyone.

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