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Stretching to Reduce Workplace Injuries and Improve Productivity (Part 1 of 3)

Many of today’s workforce spend their time sitting behind a desk working on a computer, going over spreadsheets or on their phone. This prolonged sitting can lead to a variety of issues including low back or neck pain, stiff joints and overuse injuries especially in the shoulder, elbows and wrists. These injuries have shown to lead to increase in time lost at work and decreased productivity, all affecting a business’s bottom line. According to a 2009 report by the Wellness Council of America, “implementing a stretching program into daily work practices show excellent work injury reduction benefits.”

In Part 1 of this series, I will discuss two stretches to help decrease low back pain in an office worker. “Inactivity or being sedentary increases the pressure on the spinal discs by about 40% more than standing, according to a report in Medical News Today” as stated by the Baltimore Business News. One reason for this pain can be attributed to tight hamstrings and hip flexors. These two muscles originate from the pelvis and are in a shortened position while sitting. Extended sitting can shorten these muscles placing an excess strain on the lower back and can lead to debilitating pain.

Stretching every couple of hours of sitting at the desk will help reduce pain and stiffness and lead to a happier, more effective employee. A simple way to stay on track is to set a timer on your phone to go off in 2 hour increments. When it’s time, get up and walk to the water cooler and get a small drink, upon returning, perform the following two stretches.

Hamstring Stretch: Lying on the floor with one leg straight and the other bent to 90 degrees, hold behind your knee and extend your knee pausing 5 seconds in a straightened position the best you can. Repeat for 10 repetitions and then repeat on the other side. This stretch should be felt in the back of your thigh.

Hip Flexor Stretch: Begin in a half kneeling position and rock your hips forward while maintaining your trunk upright. Pause for 5 seconds and rock back. Repeat for 10 repetitions, then repeat on the other side. This stretch should be felt in the front of your hip.

In Part 2, I will address another simple program that can be introduced by Human Resources to decrease neck pain in the work place thus reducing lost time at work. Remember, a healthier employee is a more productive employee. 

Chris Phillips is a certified Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach with over 20 years’ experience in professional sports. Chris is also a Corrective Exercise Specialist and owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County, CA. Chris can be reached via email at chris@competeperformance.com