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Benefits of Ergonomic Stretches at Workbenches

May 12, 2023 | All Articles, Ergonomics, Productivity

Ergonomic stretches are an easy and effective way for workers to stay healthy and productive in industrial environments.

Workers perform repetitive tasks in manufacturing facilities and warehouse settings.  These activities can cause strain and discomfort on bodies, leading to chronic pain, injuries, and reduced productivity.

Incorporating ergonomic stretches and exercises into the daily routine can help reduce discomfort, increase flexibility, and improve overall well-being.

Why Ergonomics in Industrial Environments?

Ergonomics, also known as human factors engineering, focuses on designing products, systems, and processes that are optimized for human use. In industrial environments, ergonomics plays a critical role in improving worker safety, comfort, and efficiency.

  • Increased productivity: Ergonomically designed workstations and tools can reduce worker fatigue and discomfort. By minimizing the physical strain on workers, they can work more efficiently and for longer periods.
  • Reduced injury rates: Ergonomics can help reduce the risk of work-related injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Ergonomic equipment and workstations reduce physical stress on the body. This can lead to lower absenteeism rates, reduced medical costs, and improved employee morale.
  • Improved quality: Ergonomics can also lead to improved product quality. Ergonomic workstations reduce the need for rework and the costs associated with it.
  • Increased job satisfaction: Workers who work in an ergonomically optimized environment are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. By reducing physical strain and fatigue, workers can focus more on their tasks and less on their discomfort.
  • Compliance with regulations: Incorporating ergonomics into industrial environments can help businesses comply with regulations such as those from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

By investing in ergonomics, businesses can reap the benefits of a safer and more productive workplace.

Common Ergonomic Issues Affecting Manufacturing and Warehouse Workers

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repetitive motion injuries are a common problem in manufacturing and warehouse environments. These injuries are caused by repeating the same motion, which can lead to strain on the muscles, tendons, and nerves. Examples of repetitive motion injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis.

Back Pain

Back pain is another common ergonomic issue that affects manufacturing and warehouse workers. Lifting heavy objects, bending, and standing for long periods of time can all contribute to back pain.

Eye Strain

Eye strain is common for workers who spend a lot of time looking at computer screens or performing detailed tasks. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, and even vision problems over time.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Exposure to loud noise over time can lead to hearing loss and other ear-related problems.

Slip and Fall Injuries

Wet floors, cluttered work areas, and poor lighting can all contribute to slip and fall injuries.

By providing workers with ergonomic equipment and training on proper techniques, employers can help prevent these injuries and improve worker safety and productivity.

The Importance of Taking Breaks

Another effective strategy for employers is to encourage breaks. Taking breaks is essential for maintaining the mental and physical well-being of employees.

One of the most significant benefits of taking breaks is that it allows the mind to recharge. The human brain can only focus on a task for a limited time before it starts to lose concentration and make errors. Studies have shown that taking short breaks can help people retain information better and improve their ability to concentrate. It is especially important for operators working on detailed tasks.

In addition to enhancing cognitive function, taking breaks also promotes physical health. It allows the muscles that have been used repetitively and for an extended period to rest and recover.

Ergonomic stretches built into the breaks can help increase flexibility, relieve muscle tension, and improve overall performance. They could reduce the risks of developing common health problems associated with repetitive motions, awkward postures, and static postures.

However, it is important to note that stretching routines should be tailored to different body parts based on their unique requirements.

Quick and Simple Ergonomic Stretches at Workbenches

Ergonomic exercises can help workers reduce strain and tension from working long hours at a workbench. Here are some quick stretches that can be easily incorporated into daily work routines at the workbench:

Shoulder rolls ergonomic stretches

Shoulder rolls – This exercise can help relieve tension and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It can improve the flexibility of the shoulders and reduce the risk of rotator cuff injuries.

  1. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Relax your shoulders and take a deep breath in.
  3. Slowly raise your shoulders towards your ears, while inhaling.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Exhale and roll your shoulders back and down.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for a minute or two, taking slow deep breaths while you do it.

Alternative: You can also stretch your shoulders by crossing your right arm in front of your body at shoulder height. Hold it with your left hand for 10-15 seconds before switching sides.

Note: Do not force any movements that cause pain or discomfort.

Wrist stretches ergonomic stretches

Wrist stretches – This exercise can help prevent repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

  1. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Extend one arm in front of you with your palm facing down.
  3. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers towards your body until you feel a stretch in your wrist and forearm.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds, feeling the stretch.
  5. Release and repeat on the other side.
  6. Continue to alternate between sides for a minute or two.

Alternative: Extend one arm in front of you with fingers pointed up, and hold on to the back of the hand with the opposite hand. Switch arm.

Note: Do not stretch to the point of pain. Avoid jerky or sudden movements.

Leg stretches ergonomic stretches

Leg stretches – This routine helps improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury to the lower back, knees, and ankles. It is particularly useful for people who spend long hours standing or walking.

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly lift one leg towards your chest, holding it with your hands for 10-15 seconds.
  3. Continue to alternate between sides for a minute or two.

Alternative: You can also stretch your legs by holding onto a chair or workbench surface. Hold the foot with your hand and pull the heel towards the buttocks slowly and gently.

Note: Avoid over-stretching and hold onto a nearby object for balance if needed.

Neck stretch

Neck stretches – This exercise can help relieve tension and stiffness in the neck. It can help improve posture, enhance blood flow, and reduce muscle tension.

  1. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Tilt your head to the side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder, until you feel a stretch in your neck.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds, feeling the stretch.
  4. Release and repeat on the other side.
  5. Continue to alternate between sides for a minute or two.

Alternative: You can also do the same stretch by tilting your head forward and backward to stretch the front and back of your neck.

Note: Avoid overstretching and any movements that cause pain or discomfort.

Back stretches

Back stretches – This routine helps reduce lower back pain and improve flexibility. It is particularly useful for people who sit for prolonged periods as it helps to counteract the effects of sitting for too long.

  1. Sit on a stool.
  2. Maintain good posture and pull shoulder blades together.
  3. Hold for five seconds and relax.
  4. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Alternative: You can also stretch your back by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bending forward to touch your toes.

Eye exercises – Staring at a computer screen or a task object for long periods can cause eye strain and fatigue. This can help relax the eyes and reduce strain.

  1. Look away from the screen or object and focus on an object in the distance.
  2. Hold this focus for 20 seconds.
  3. Blink several times to help moisten your eyes and reduce dryness.
  4. Repeat this exercise every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Note: If your eyes feel strained or tired, take a longer break to rest your eyes.

You can find more easy stretch routines in Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Stretches.

Remember to always stretch gently and slowly, and never force your body beyond its limits.

Additionally, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new stretching routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or injuries.

In conclusion, ergonomic stretches at workbenches can provide great value to both employees and employers. However, it is always important to make sure that the workbenches are set up to fit individual workers in the first place.

If you are looking for the right ergonomic workbenches for your application and workforce, Our team at BOSTONtec are here to help.

About the Author

Nina Neuschuetz
Nina Neuschuetz
As the Marketing Manager for BOSTONtec, Nina brings a wealth of experience with over 25 years of B2B marketing expertise in both the United States and Europe. Her tenure at BOSTONtec has been marked by a keen focus on ergonomics within the industrial market. Notably, she lead an ergonomic study in collaboration with the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina State University and developed comprehensive ergonomic guides for industrial and commercial workstation environments. Nina’s role extends to collaborating with customers and partners, guiding them through market trends and solutions tailored for the industry. She holds a post-graduate degree in Marketing and Business Administration from the University of Passau, Germany. Connect with Nina to explore ergonomic solutions and industry insights on her LinkedIn profile.
Yi Han
Yi Han
Yi Han is the Marketing Specialist at BOSTONtec. Through her years of collaboration with applications engineers, customer service specialists, and customers, she has cultivated a deep understanding of the transformative power of ergonomics and its applications across industrial, medical, and technical settings . Her primary focus is to inspire individuals and organizations to find the right workplace solutions that optimize productivity and prioritize overall well-being. Yi holds an MBA degree from the Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management at Northwood University in Michigan. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest insights on workplace ergonomics.

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