Ever heard the phrase "use it or lose it"? It is one that can aptly be applied to our ability to move. New born babies have no trouble touching their toes to their ears and far too many seniors can barely put on their own shoes. As much as I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, the truth is that flexibility, agility and range of motion all diminish over time, unless we work to maintain them. And there is the silver lining! We can do something about it.
If you don't want to be one of those seniors who shuffles through the day with the biomechanics of a rusty robot, then how you move now is quite important. Full range of motion is something we must work to maintain. If you don't use it you will most assuredly lose it.
Those who have jobs that require sitting or standing in one place all day are especially vulnerable to problems. Sitting for extended periods shortens the muscles that the allow the legs to extend. Over time your stride will become shorter simply because you can no longer swing your legs freely at the hip. And this will eventually increase your odds of falling. So when you get up from your desk to stretch you legs, you should do more than stroll to the coffee machine and back. Make an effort to take full strides, do a lunge or two beside your desk, touch your toes, etc.
Now for those who stand in one place the challenge can be even greater. Picture jobs like cashiering and assembly line work. Work stations are set up to maximize efficiency by minimizing movement. While this might be great for productivity, it can take quite a toll on the musculoskeletal system. Jobs like these may not allow for frequent breaks to stretch and move around, but perhaps they should. Workers who are agile and limber are ultimately more productive than those with stiff aching bodies.
Whatever or wherever the job might be employees and employers both need to take an active part to ensure that people move. Flexible, agile, strong bodies are much better able to avoid strains and sprains, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics account for more than 40% of workplace injuries.
In short, keeping employees flexible gives flexibility to the bottom line.
About the Author:
Lynne Strasser is our contributing blogger for Health & Wellness issues. She is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer who possesses both a Masters Degree in Philosophy and a Masters Degree in Humanities, and has extensive business management experience. All of that combines to give her a strong sense of mind/body unity, and how good health and fitness impact business operations and the employers bottom line. Her articles are part of our "2013: The Year of Prevention, Health & Wellness" campaign.