While you may think of warming up as something you do before a gym class or a social game of sport, it’s important to do so before any physical activity. This includes the physical activity associated with work.
Yet many of us don’t stretch or put any time aside to get into shape before work, even if holding a physically demanding job that places a strain on the body. Warming up increases blood flow and loosens the joints to prepare the body to be active. Warmups also improve circulation and promote good posture, but best of all helps prevent us from being injured, whether playing indoor soccer or lifting heavy stock!
Manual handling injuries are some of the most commonly reported workplace injuries. Safe Work Australia reports that 41% of serious claims are due to manual handling while lifting or carrying objects, while 43% are due to traumatic joint, ligament, muscle and tendon injuries. In New Zealand, it’s even higher with 65% of all claims in 2020 coming from soft-tissue injuries.
Why warm-up for work?
- Allows increased blood flow into the muscles and joints which you’ll be working
- Helps release the lubricating fluid in your joints to reduce joint friction enabling joints to move more freely
- Increases your joints’ range of motion with less energy required to do so
- Fires up the nerves associated with the muscle groups that will be used when performing the work (back, upper and lower limbs, etc)
At Programmed, we developed SMARTstart, which is a series of role-specific warm-ups for (and during) work routines to help prepare our employees for their day’s work. Combining static and dynamic stretches, SMARTstart is targeted at heavy lifting roles such as drivers and plant operators, as well as roles with highly repetitive tasks such as production line operators, pick and packing roles.
Here are our tips for warming up for work:
- Create your own 3 – 5-minute exercise or stretching routine
- Complete your routine prior to the start of any physical activity, whether for work or recreation
- Stretch slowly and deliberately
- Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds to properly engage the muscle(s)
- Speak up if something is too heavy or a task is causing you pain
- Overstretch when performing your routine as this may cause an injury
- Stretch to the point of pain, just go to the point where you feel a pleasant stretching sensation
- Make sudden movements – always use controlled movements (no sudden jerking)
- Over-exercise – too much, too fast and too soon can also cause injuries.
- Stay silent if something you’re asked to do is painful
Even those who work in office jobs that are mainly sedentary should make sure to be careful of posture, stretch hands and arms to avoid injury. From time to time, you may get asked to do manual labour in the office, such as moving things. In this case, make sure to stretch first and always keep a straight back when lifting. If something’s too heavy, ask for help or find an aid such as a trolley to use instead.