When employees suffer from injuries – especially work-related ones – that is something that all managers and business owners need to take seriously. Injuries can be very expensive, both for the business and for the employees.
Productivity suffers. The work doesn’t get done as quickly as it should. And if the injury occurred while on the job, then insurance and medical treatments come into play too – and that can be very costly in terms of money and time.
But many employees are already suffering from minor, chronic injuries without even knowing it. Aches and pains afflict many workers – both in the office or out on the job site – and these nagging injuries can take their toll on the employees and on the company, even when the injuries don’t appear on the surface to be interfering with an employee’s ability to do his job.
This is why implementing an exercise and stretching routine at work is a good idea. When employees perform daily warm ups and stretches, their health can reap benefits in a number of ways. Not only that, but they can become more productive as well, and that can help the business to be more profitable over time.
Below are three health and productivity benefits of stretching before, during and after work.
Improves Spine Flexibility and Posture
It’s interesting that employees on opposite ends of the spectrum – in terms of activity levels – can suffer similar negative health effects on their back muscles, spine and shoulders. Whether you are an office worker who spends 8-12 hours per day at a desk, or you’re a construction worker who is actively walking, bending, kneeling, climbing, lifting and carrying various workloads all day long, you’re going to experience tightness, tension and strain in your back and shoulders on a regular basis.
But performing a series of slow, gradual stretches on a daily basis can improve the flexibility of your back, neck and shoulders. Loosening up your joints and back in this way can improve your posture as well. Daily stretching can reduce your chances of suffering a serious back or neck injury and can reduce those daily aches and pains that impact your effectiveness on the job.
Reduces Muscle Pain, Strain and Tension
Most people experience some level of soreness in different parts of their bodies as they go through the work day. Your body needs to move around every day. If you’re stuck at your desk in the same body position, tension will build up in your muscles and joints – and if this tension is not relieved, then strains and injuries are more likely to result. Implementing a daily stretching plan can reduce the amount of pain in your muscles by reducing the levels of tension that build up throughout the day.
But workers who engage in physical activity also benefit in similar ways by stretching regularly. Constant physical exertion causes muscle fatigue. Daily activity literally causes the muscles to shorten between their insertion points, causing stiffness and mild levels of pain. Lactic acid accumulation occurs as well, as a natural byproduct of intense, physical exertion, and this acidity causes a burning ache in the muscles.
Stretching throughout the day can lengthen those muscle fibers and relieve the tension placed on them and on your joints. But the stretches can also increase blood circulation and cause the lactic acid buildup to disperse more rapidly, relieving the burning aches that occur from physical exertion.
Increases Alertness and Mental Focus
While these physical health benefits are all well and good, some managers still hesitate to implement mandatory stretching programs because they fail to see how those activities will directly benefit the organization. This is understandable. But it turns out that stretching for a few minutes throughout the work day can also improve productivity.
As muscles and joints are stretched out, blood circulation increases. This is good for a couple reasons. Not only does increased circulation reduce physical stiffness and tightness, but the extra blood flow to your brain can make you more mentally alert as well.
Stretching is good for the mind and body, and it improves employees’ ability to focus and concentrate on their work. That alone is a pretty good reason to consider making stretching an official part of the workday.
If you’ve been sitting on the fence about implementing a mandatory stretching program, please know that workforce Compliance Training is justified in this case. Your employees’ health and productivity directly impact your company’s profitability, so it is not unreasonable to require daily stretches as just another part of the job.