Construction injures are incredibly common…

and avoidable in many instances. If laborers were to take the time to stretch before a task or prior to arriving at the job site, then reported cases of workplace injury would likely decrease.

I witnessed a laborer walking up a flight of stairs in a power plant and dislocate his ankle while carrying a couple 2 x 4’s. This man was not in best of shape. Could this injury have been prevented had he been on a stretching and strengthening program? I like to think he could have limited the extent of the injury with preparation. Maybe his boots were too loose? Maybe he was thinking of something unrelated to what he was doing or where he was going while carrying those materials?

I was a union carpenter for 11 years and in trade school we were taught to stretch out before work. Most of us followed this routine, unless you were in your teens or early twenties! Now, as a physical therapist assistant, I have the pleasure of working with tradesman in a different fashion. I get to help them recover from injuries. At the same time, I get to help them prevent injuries by working on a routine of stretching and strengthening. For example, by completing a basic routine of lower extremity strengthening and stretching exercises, a workplace injury such as the one mentioned may have been avoided.

Construction sites can be dangerous places and it’s best to minimize the chance of injury the best you can. Incorporating a routine of stretching and strengthening will likely minimize the event of an injury such as a strain, sprain, or fracture. Stretching the hamstrings prior to bending over to pick up that circular saw may prevent a lumbar strain. Completing some lower trunk rotations in the morning may prevent a rotational injury such as an end of range twist to mark “and go” on a stud. Musculoskeletal injuries abound in construction. We do not need statistics to tell us that. I know from experience many injuries go unreported. In my experience, shoulder and back injuries occurred more than any other musculoskeletal injury. Shoulder injuries could be prevented with scapular stabilization exercises.

Construction is a dangerous job.

It requires a lot physical stamina too. We want our patients to maximize time in their workplace by incorporating a basic stretching and strengthening program.

Prevent further and future injuries at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy. Come in today for your Free Rapid Recovery ®Injury Assessment!

 

Our AZ physical therapy experts are of course no strangers to the recent fitness great debate. They’ve heard the pros, they’ve heard the cons, and now they’re here to weigh in on the question that has been shaking runner’s beliefs for some time now.

Should you stretch before a run?

It’s safe to say that for decades now running magazines, experts, and blogs have been touting the pre-run ritual. But with new research garnered by a number of well-respected exercise physiologists, there is now some doubt attached to the act of stretching before rigorous exercise. Today, our AZ physical therapy professionals will give you the facts along with a rundown of the pros and cons.

The Benefits of Pre-Run Stretching

The long-held belief behind stretching before a run was initially based on the idea that stretching could effectively “warm up” the muscles before more demanding exercise. The muscles would be loosened, the joints would improve their range of motion, and in the end, the runner would ward off most pain and injury during and after the run.

The Doubt

However, while more research has been done to test the benefits and effects of stretching on the body before rigorous exercise and physical activity, more and more doubt that the routine isn’t quite as useful as it was once regarded has come to the forefront. The most common myth-busting result? While warming up is still certainly beneficial to the body, stretching, in fact, does not prevent injury. Instead, though light stretching can be beneficial for, say, serious athletes who need to move their muscles in multiple directions before a big game, stretching can cause pain and discomfort due to the slight tears that occur in the muscle on a microscopic level, rendering the technique not only useless, but potentially detrimental.

The Solution

While stretching before a run may not cause immediate or severe damage, it is important to consider replacing the habit with a more beneficial one – one that will not cause you to run the risk of injury before you head out on your daily run. One solution advocated by the pros is to skip the deep stretch and instead devote a few minutes to slowly warming up. This could mean anything from a power walk to a brisk jog, intended to increase stability, assist in flexibility, and prepare your legs for similar movement in the near future.

In the end, it’s important to understand that stretching before running is a very different endeavor than stretching in other capacities, such as at your desk in the middle of a long work day, in a yoga class with trained professionals, or during a session with an experienced AZ physical therapy expert. 

For more information on stretching and the benefits of physical activity, visit us at www.foothillsrehab.com and learn more about physical therapy in Arizona today!

 

One good thing about Exercise Science is; we’ve come a long way baby. Gone are the days of practice with everyone commencing by lining up for toe touches and quad stretches: holding your ankle up and behind you in an unnaturally, uncomfortable position!

Understanding the proper type of stretching before and after activity is essential to enhancing performance and avoiding injury.  When young athletes engage in physical activity, they are often encouraged by coaches and parents to stretch prior to activity.  The goal is to prepare muscles for sports, to enhance performance and decrease risk of injury, including sprains and strains.  In the past, advice regarding stretching has referred to static (or passive) stretching prior to activity. That is, stretching held for 15-60 seconds in a stationary position to improve the flexibility of one muscle group at a time.  However, recent research confirms the benefits of dynamic stretching prior to physical activity in both children and adults.  Dynamic stretching uses functional, activity-specific motions with constant movement to warm-up.  Static stretching then becomes important in the cool down after activity.

A thorough warm-up period is designed to prepare the body for physical activity by:

  • Increasing core body temperature
  • Stimulating blood flow to the arms and legs
  • Enhancing coordinated movement
  • Improving range of motion
  • Developing body awareness of joint position sense and movement
  • Using movement to expand muscle and tendon flexibility

These benefits of a good warm-up, which were once associated with static stretching prior to activity, are now attributed to dynamic stretching activities.  In fact, evidence now suggests that static stretching prior to physical activity and sports may be detrimental to performance involving vertical jumps, shorts sprints, muscle endurance, maximum muscle contraction, balance and reaction time (McMillian 2006).  Studies have also shown that static stretching can result in less force and power production not only in adults, but also in children, especially in jumping and sprinting performance (Faigenbaum 2006).  Because the goal of the warm up period is to prepare the body for specific functional movements related to a sport, dynamic stretching appears to provide that service without being harmful.

While holding a “runners lunge” prior to practice or a game may be a thing of the past, static stretching is still very important for the cool-down phase and should not be skipped. During the cool-down, athletes are led through a program to allow the body temperature to return to normal levels and prepare the body for the healing process.  During vigorous activity, muscle fibers tear at microscopic levels and need to undergo a reparation process that is essential for building new fibers, and as a result, increasing strength.  As muscles cool down, they tend to heal in the position in which they are left.  This highlights the importance of passive stretching after physical activity: low-load long duration static stretching allows the muscles to stay in a lengthened position as the muscle cools down.  This provides a greater length through which the muscle can contract to generate force during the next time activity is initiated.  Thus, static stretching serves a greater benefit to young athletes post-exercise.

When designing dynamic and passive stretching programs, here are some common considerations:

Dynamic stretching programs (Mann 1999):

  • Move continuously, typically in laps for 10-15 minutes overall
  • Vary the program according to the level of the athlete
  • Start slow and progress to quicker and more advanced movements
  • Avoid movements too intense that fatigue the muscles
  • Incorporate the whole body and imitate movements used in specific sports

Passive stretching programs:

  • Stay in one position per muscle group
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat the stretch 2-3 times per muscle group
  • Address all muscle groups used in the specific sport

Sources:

Avery D Faigenbaum, James E McFarland, Jeff A Schwerdtman, Nicholas A Ratamess, Jie Kang, and Jay R Hoffman.  Dynamic Warm-Up Protocols, With and Without a Weighted Vest, and Fitness Performance in High School Female Athletes. J Athl Train. 2006 Oct-Dec; 41(4): 357–363.

Danny J. McMillian, Josef H. Moore, Brian S. Hatler and Dean C. Tayler. Dynamic vs. Static-Stretching Warm Up: The Effect On Power and Agility Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2006, 20(3), 492–499.

Douglas P. Mann and Margaret T. Jones, CSCS. Guidelines to the Implementation of a Dynamic Stretching Program. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 1999. Volume 21, Number 6, pages 53–55.