Pre-Work Warm-up Routine

Reduce Workplace Injuries with a Pre-work Warm-up Routine

Did you know that doing a pre-work warm-up with your employees can reduce musculoskeletal-related injuries? A literature review by Kohler found that in one company a 7-minute stretching routine done 2 times a day with employees resulted in a 62% decrease in the number of medical department visits related to work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the leading cause of pain and disability in the workplace today. The question is not if you should be doing a pre-work stretching program with your employees. The question is actually why aren’t you doing it as part of an early intervention program?

Why are Pre-Shift Warm-up Exercises Beneficial?

Simply, because they reduce injury risk.

Since we were all kids we have been trained to warm up and stretch before doing any physical activity. Why is work any different, especially if you are in a physically demanding job?

These exercises reduce the risk of MSDs by reducing fatigue, improving muscular balance and posture, and improving muscle coordination. All of these are factors in that can cause a musculoskeletal injury in an employee.

What is a Pre-Work Warm-Up?

A pre-shift warm-up routine is designed to transition employees from rest to work. It increased blood flow to the muscles used for the specific work activities the employee will be engaging in.

There are many different ways to do a warm-up and stretching program with your employees. The goal is to make sure to warm up the entire body and not rush. However, these warm-ups should last long either!


Get our stretching guide complete with 5 stretches that we recommend the most for employees!

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

Pre-Shift Exercise Routine

For this routine, you and your employees will perform 10 repetitions of each exercise. Be sure you are moving in a slow and controlled manner. Again, do not rush these.

1. Shoulder Rolls

Roll your shoulders up, back, and around.

2. Forward Arm Swings

Standing upright, swing arms forward and backward in an alternating fashion.

3. Arm Swings Out

Swing your arms across the body and then away/out to the side of your body.

4. Open and Close Hands

Open your hands, spreading your fingers wide. Next, bring your fingers back together again.

5. Finger Tendon Glides

Start with your fingers straight up, curl them into a fist one joint at a time. Next, bring your fingers out into a tabletop position. Finally, from the tabletop position bend your fingers at the middle joint.

6. Wrist Circles

Rotate your wrists in a full circle clockwise 10 times and repeat counter-clockwise 10 times.

7. Neck Rotations

Rotate your neck to the right and then left. That is one repetition

8. Neck Sidebending

Touch your right ear to your right shoulder and then repeat on the left side. That is one repetition.

9. Windmills

Starting with your arms out to the side, bend down and touch your right foot with your left hand. Stand up and then touch the left foot with your right hand. That is one repetition.

10. Butt Kickers

Bend the knee and touch foot on buttocks and switch legs in an alternating fashion

11. Front Lunge

Lunge forward with the right leg. Stand up and lunge forward with the left knee. That is one repetition.

12. Side Lunge

Lunge to the right side and then return to standing. Repeat on the left side. That is one repetition.

When is the Best time to do this Routine?

There are actually two times that we recommend doing the warm-up exercises. At the beginning of the employee’s shift and then after a long break, such as lunch.

However, if you decide as a company to only do them as a group one time a day then before a shift starts is the best time to do these warm-up exercises.

Final Thoughts on Pre-Work Warm-up Programs

Remember that this routine is another tool in your injury prevention belt. But, not all injuries can be prevented 100% of the time. The goal is just to give your employees the resources and tools they need to prevent injuries.

A warm-up routine is only part of an injury prevention program in a company. If you are a Wichita area company that would like more help on creating and implementing an injury prevention program be sure to give us a call at WorkSafe Physical Therapy for a consultation!

Related Articles to Pre-Shift Exercises


Kohler, G.  “Fit for work: a self-defense approach to safety.”  Occupational Hazards, Vol. 57, No. 10, pp. 187-189, October 1995. Warm-up video??

Are you enjoying our posts?

Join our mailing list and receive an email when new blog content is being added to our site.

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.