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Injury Prevention at Work: Stretch Your Way to Safety

Integrating stretching exercises into your workday feels good, provides a mental and physical reset, and may help prevent workplace injuries.

A worker stretching his arms.

Incorporating stretching into your lifestyle is a simple yet effective way to enhance your overall health and reduce the risk of workplace injuries. Making time to stretch throughout the week can increase flexibility and mobility, which is good for improving overall health and decreasing your chance of injury.

Consistency is key. Adding stretching exercises to your daily or weekly routine goes a long way towards maintaining your physical well-being.

The benefits of stretching include:

  • Enhances flexibility and joint range of motion
  • Improves coordination, balance, and posture
  • Reduces tension and stress
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Prevents fatigue and boosts energy levels
  • Helps prevent muscle strains and injuries


There are three types of stretches, and it’s important to know the difference to avoid injury.

Static Stretches are when you stretch a muscle (or group of muscles) to the full extent of your ability and hold it, typically 15 to 60 seconds. These stretches are best performed after work or physical activity, as they help to relax and lengthen muscles that have been in use.

Dynamic Stretches moves a muscle group fluidly through an entire range of motion. This type of stretching is ideal before starting your workday or engaging in physical activity because it helps prepare your body for movement.

Ballistic Stretches involve bouncing into a stretch, using the momentum of your moving body. This type of bouncing stretch is not recommended for most people because it can put excess pressure on your muscles and connective tissues if your body is not used to the movements.


Be sure to perform each stretching movement gently and do not rush through stretches.

If balance is a concern, perform stretches near a wall or a stable object that you can hold onto.

Maintain good posture throughout the stretches to maximize their effectiveness and reduce the risk of injury.

When you stretch, you never want to get to the point where you feel pain. Do not stretch beyond your limits. If you feel pain during a stretch, avoid that movement.

Breath normally while stretching. Do not hold your breath when you stretch.

Regular stretching is more beneficial than infrequent, longer sessions. Stretching every day is the most effective.

A woman performing some stretching exercises while standing.


Everybody’s schedule is different but there are several times through the day you might consider stretching.

  • Before Work: To prepare your body for the day's tasks, especially if your job involves physical labor.
  • During Breaks: Brief stretching sessions can help relieve muscle tension and refresh your body.
  • After Work: To help muscles relax and recover from the day's activities.
  • Before and After Specific Tasks: Especially for tasks that are physically demanding or repetitive.
  • Before Bedtime: To unwind and relax.


Even though stretching is a low-impact activity, your body needs to prepare for the motions just like you would before doing any other type of exercise.

A warm-up session increases body temperature and blood flow to the muscles, making them more pliable and less prone to injury during stretching.

Spend a few minutes (or more) on gentle warm-up activities before starting your stretches. Keep the intensity moderate because the goal is to warm-up, not wear out. You should feel energized, not exhausted.

Examples of warm-up movements include:

  • Walking: A brisk walk, gradually increasing in pace
  • Shoulder Shrugs: Lifting the shoulders up towards the ears and then releasing
  • Arm Circles: Small to large circular motions with the arms
  • Arm Swings: Swing your arms forward and backward at a comfortable pace
  • Shoulder Squeezes: Pull your shoulder blades together and release
  • Side Steps: Stepping side to side at a comfortable pace
  • Hip Circles: Make circular motions with your hips, first in one direction, then the other
  • High Knees: March, or jog, in place, but lift your knees higher than usual towards your chest
A construction worker stretching on the job.


These stretches can be integrated into a daily routine, even in limited spaces or during short breaks.

Neck Stretch: Gently tilt your head toward each shoulder.

Wrist Circles: Extend the arms forward and rotate the wrists in circular motions, first in one direction, then the opposite.

Shoulder Stretch: Reach one arm across your body and use the other hand to press the arm closer to your chest.

Standing Shoulder Stretch: Stand tall and clasp your hands together behind your back. Straighten your arms and gently lift your hands upwards, feeling the stretch in your shoulders and chest.

Overhead Arm Reach: Extend one arm overhead, then lean to the opposite side to stretch the side of your body. Repeat on the other side.

Quad Stretch: Stand and hold onto a steady surface for balance. Bend one knee and bring your heel towards your buttocks, stretching the front of your thigh. Hold, then repeat with the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other, toes pointing up, and gently bend the back knee while leaning forward from the hips, keeping the back straight to stretch the hamstring of the extended leg.

An office worker stretching while sitting at a desk.

The information provided in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Not every warm-up movement, stretching exercise, or tip provided in this article will be appropriate for every person. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, before starting any new exercise or stretching regimen, or to ensure that any exercise or stretching plan is appropriate for your individual circumstances, especially if you have an existing health condition or are recovering from an injury. Weeklysafety.com does not assume any liability for any injury or health condition that is presumed to have occurred as a result of following the information in this article.

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