Throwing yourself into work shouldn’t mean throwing your back out: four stretches for labourers

Throwing yourself into work shouldn’t mean throwing your back out: four stretches for labourers

Whether you’re climbing stairs all day, moving inventory, or re-arranging furniture, it’s no secret that work can take a toll on your body. However, there’s good news—taking a few minutes per day to stretch will give your body a break, and has positive, pain-relieving benefits.

In part one of this three-part series, we will be covering four stretches specifically designed for the strains and pains that are placed on worker’s bodies. These four, quick stretches can be done any time of day, and only take five minutes to complete.

Side stretch

Side stretches will relieve tension between the ribs and strengthen the intercostal muscles (the muscles between your ribs).

How to perform a side stretch: 

  • Point your left foot and take a step out to the left.
  • Bending your left knee, side bend at the waist to the left.
  • Place your left elbow on your knee* and extend your right arm above your head.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

*Older adults should place their hand on their knee.

Trap openers

“Traps” is short for “trapezius muscle”, which is the muscle along the back of your neck and upper back. The trap muscle is used to turn your head and neck, steady your shoulders, and move your arms—so it’s important to ensure it’s looked after.

How to perform a trap opener:

  • Breathing deeply and calmly, relax your stomach muscles.
  • Let your head hand loosely forward and gently roll from side to side.
  • Bring your hands up to your neck and gently massage the back of your head and neck (b).
  • Drop your arms to your sides, relax your shoulders, and slowly roll them back and forward for 15 seconds (c).

Bending circles

Although this stretch may look simple, it’s very effective at stretching, strengthening, and relieving tension in your shoulder muscles.

How to perform bending circles:

  • Standing with your hands up, rotate your shoulders backwards making small circles in the air (a).
  • Bend from side-to-side and keep rotating shoulders for 10 seconds (b).


A stretching and strengthening exercise in one, lunges are a fantastic way to build muscle, improve balance, and increase flexibility. Because lunges activate several major muscle groups, they are especially helpful for aiding in injury prevention, correcting muscle imbalances, and helping with rehabilitation—as long as proper form is used.

How to perform a lunge:

  • Standing up straight, take a step forward with one leg, bending slowly at the knees.
  • Allow the heel of your back foot to lift from the floor (only bend far enough to line up your knee with your ankle).
  • Balance for 20 seconds, repeat on opposite side.

Straighten Up Alberta is a public education program offered by Alberta’s chiropractors, designed to increase awareness of and strengthen posture and improve spinal health. This scaled-down version, designed specifically for workers, is intended to provide relief when and where you need it. To see what else this program has to offer, visit

Posted on: October 15, 2021Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors