The popularity of workplace stretching programs comes at a time when the efficacy of stretching has come under scrutiny. Recent studies have suggested that “static stretching” before exercise does not minimize the risk of injury and may even adversely affect an athlete’s performance.
Others take issue with the cost-effectiveness of workplace stretching programs. These critics question whether the time taken out of the day to stretch would not be better spent working. If there is in fact no strong correlation between stretching and injury prevention, then those critics would be right.
Studies on this front have been inconclusive. A report from the Labor Education Research Center in Oregon said: "The few available studies specific to workplace stretching programs suggest that stretching at work enhances worker health and decreases the severity and cost of treating [injuries], but fail to definitively prove the case for or against stretching."
Regardless, the Mall of America is taking stretching seriously. Company executives have even been known to check the office around stretch time to make sure that everyone is participating. Resistance, while futile, has also decreased since Stretch It Out’s initial launch. Now, employees enjoy the routine, with departments taking turns leading the stretch and picking music.
If your workplace doesn’t have a program, here are some simple stretches
you can do on your own, with minimal embarrassment, whether or not your job involves operating heavy machinery.
Place one hand under your elbow, lift and stretch your elbow across your chest while keeping your torso in place. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly return to start and repeat with your other arm.