Warm Up and Stretch to Prevent Injury While Working in Cold Weather

Cold weather places an increased strain on your blood vessels and heart. Because of this, there is a 31% increase in heart-related deaths during winter months.1 Cold weather can also increase your likelihood of tearing a muscle or ligament, especially in your knees, shoulders, hips, and elbows.2 A good way to prevent injury in the industrial athlete during cold weather is to warm up daily.

You’ll want to have your employees warm up first if you’re going to add stretching to their workday. Think of a rubber band. When it’s cold, it’s hard to stretch and is brittle, but it’s much easier to move and stretch after moving it around a bit and warming it up.

Here’s two components to look at when building a flex and stretch routine:

For employee warmups, think of light movement routines. This can be as simple as having them set up for the day before starting to work or having them walk around the facility for at least 10-15 minutes. They can also do a light calisthenics routine using the exercises below for 30 seconds each. Here’re some You Tube videos I found to help demonstrate how they work:

After warming up, you may want to have employees stretch a bit. Below is a routine you can use. Employees should hold each stretch for 30 seconds for maximum effect.

  • Shoulder Stretch – Place one arm across your chest and lightly pull, then switch.
  • Chin Tuck – Tuck your chin into your neck.
  • Chest Stretch – Put your arms in the air and place your hands behind your head. Then try to pull your elbows back, opening your chest.
  • Standing Hip Flexor Stretch – Stand in a staggered stance so one foot is in front of the other. Place your hands on your hips and try to lean back and away from your back leg slightly.
  • Standing Adductor Stretch – Stand with your feet just more than hands-width apart. Bend one knee and keep the other leg straight. Try to stay upright.

Remember, when performing these exercises, the goal is to warm the body up, not to induce a sweat.

  1. https://www.consumerreports.org/heart-attack/why-the-risk-of-heart-attack-rises-during-winter-a4550377855/
  2. https://www.gomberamd.com/blog/how-cold-weather-affects-sports-injuries-23105.html

Asher Sweet
Asher Sweet
Asher joined ICW Group in 2017 and provides risk management services for Northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Northeast. He assists clients across a spectrum of industries, including foundry operations, transportation, healthcare, waste management, warehousing and distribution, and the construction industry. Asher has a BS in Occupational Safety & Health from Columbia Southern University and is a member of ICW’s Ergonomic and Tribology team.

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