Construction workers know better than anyone that a day on the job is hard work and requires a great deal of physical strength and movement. Just as athletes take the time to stretch before a workout to protect against muscle strains or injury, construction workers should take the extra time to properly warm up before the workday to avoid potential health risks. Isolated static stretching before exercise or strenuous work may seem like a good idea to prepare for the day, but in reality, this type of stretching will not actively prevent against injury.
Instead, workers should perform dynamic stretches, or active movements where your joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. Dynamic stretching works by getting your body moving and properly preparing your nervous system for the day. Here are six dynamic stretches you can practice before work on a daily basis to protect against injury while simultaneously improving your strength and flexibility:
- Wrist Rotations
In a regular stance, stand in place with your arms by your side, and make a fist with each hand. Rotate your left wrist counterclockwise and your right wrist clockwise. After 10-12 repetitions, switch the rotations of both hands and repeat for another 10-12 repetitions.
- Arm Circles
Standing in place, extend your arms out to your sides and begin rotating your entire arms in a clockwise circular direction, adjusting the size of the circle to your comfort level. After 10-12 repetitions, reverse the motion and perform the movement for an additional 10-12 repetitions.
- Arm Swings
Place your feet paced in a regular, comfortable stance and begin to move both your arms to the side. With your arms relatively straight, with a comfortable bend at the elbow, swing your arms simultaneously in a “criss-cross” motion across your chest for 10-12 repetitions.
- Trunk Twists
Continuing in your standing stance, place your hands away from you with your palms flat. Twist your torso from the left, without pushing your body too far. Then twist to the right with the same intensity. Continue the back-and-forth motion for 10-12 repetitions.
- Trunk Side Bends
Stand regularly with both arms straight from your sides. Put your left hand on your hip and the right straight with your fingers extended. Bend your waist towards the right side and extend until you are no longer able to, aiming to touch your right hand to ground. Continue this motion for 10-12 repetitions.
Stand still with a strong posture with your hands in front of you. While looking straight, bend your knees to a 45° angle to the floor, making sure that your knees and toes are pointed in the same direction. Once you reach your lowest point, move your body to its original position. Repeat the exercise at least sixteen more times at a smooth pace.