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#treehack: Stretching for Performance

Working with Precision

#treehack: Stretching for Performance

It's pretty tough to get anything done when you're laid up with a torn muscle. Here's how we keep flexible and keep working.

We love finding tips and tricks to help do more work with less effort. Whether it’s learning to maximize the life of a rake, improving safety on the job or at home, sourcing innovative work site communications systems, hey, we’re good at work, it’s what we do. Keeping on top of it all requires staying in peak condition, and one of our keys to ultra-endurance is to stay flexible. We’re posting our stretching routine for our crews to access easily in field (and because I couldn’t find one with a decent looking model anywhere online). Want to know what keeps Precision performing? Check it out.

Start: Warm up is essential. Take 3-5 minutes briskly walking or lightly jogging around your park spot when your crew first arrives in the morning. Once you’ve warmed up, get bent. Hold each stretch for 15-30 count and don’t bounce. Take steady, deep breaths throughout the routine to stretch out your lungs. Don’t go too hard, and try to keep in mind this is NOT a work out, DO NOT stretch so far it hurts.

Calves

Calves – literally – put the jump in your step. Take care of them so you can keep jumping like:

https://youtu.be/XhzpxjuwZy0

Oh hell ya.

Stand an arm’s length away from a support directly in front of you, and brace with your arms. Extend your right leg back and gently push your right heel to the ground. Focus the stretch on the muscles below you knee to the back of your leg. Then switch sides and repeat.

Quads

Quads help you traverse up and down hills, climb trees, move debris to the chipper and power through the day. Be like the Quadfather and stretch these bad boys out or they’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. I don’t even know what that means but it’s not good.

Try to balance on your own, but stand an arm’s length away from a support, just in case you start falling over. Pull your right heel up toward your butt. Grab your ankle with your right hand to hold the stretch. Try to keep your back straight and look forward while holding the stretch. Focus the stretch on the muscles above your knee to the front of my leg. Then switch sides and repeat.

Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings are super prone to getting pulled and also increase the probability of lower back injuries. Every time you bend to pick up a branch, traffic cone, outrigger pad, grab a chainsaw, or scootch up a bank you rely on these to keep you balanced.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lean forward, keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent, reaching toward the ground with your hands. Focus the stretch on the muscles at the back of my leg below my butt and above my knee.

Groin

A flexible groin allows for easy, efficient lateral movement. To keep jumping ditches, dodging logs and feeding chippers make sure to give it a good stretch. 

Take a horizontal step sideways to the left while facing forward and hold. Depending on how you feel sometimes you can brace yourself with your left hand on your hip as you continue to hold. To increase the stretch, bend your left leg and focus the stretch on the inside of your right leg in your groin area. Then switch sides and repeat.

Hip Flexor

Your hip flexor is an often neglected muscle but it has the power to cripple you like kryptonite cripples Superman. Ya, THAT bad. A tight hip flexor will pull your shoulders down and dramatically increases the chances of, believe it or not, lower back injuries.

Take a step forward with your left leg and brace yourself with your hands on your left leg. Try to keep your back straight and eyes forward as you bend your left knee and think about sinking your hips toward the ground. Focus the stretch on the muscles at the top of your right leg just below your hip. Then switch sides and repeat.

Obliques

This is a wicked stretch that allows you to keep shoveling tree tops to the road edge all day and all night and all day again. Um, wicked, right? Let’s do this.

Stand with a support on your left. Cross your right leg in front of your left, make sure to keep your right leg crossed and right foot on the ground while you reach your right arm over your head and grab the support. Lean to your left and focus the stretch on the muscles on the right side of your torso. Then switch sides and repeat.

Pecs

Keeping your pecs limber helps counterbalance your chest muscles against the frequently used back muscles. Balance is key to a long, profitable career.

Stand at arm’s length from a support on your left. Grab the support with your left hand and turn outward to your right, continuing to hold the support with your left hand. Focus the stretch on the muscles on the upper left side of your chest. Then switch sides and repeat.

Delts

Keeping your shoulders flexible is a must for hardcore tree workers, so let’s dig into it.

Stand straight and pull your right arm across your chest, holding it in place with your left arm. Focus the stretch on the muscles around your right shoulder/rotator cuff area. Then switch sides and repeat.

Triceps

Bi’s are for show but tri’s are for go, right? So make sure to stretch them out to keep you rolling.

Stand straight and touch the area between your shoulder blades with your right hand. Apply gentle pressure to your right elbow with your left hand. Focus on the muscles on the back of your arm between your shoulder and your elbow. Then switch sides and repeat.

Use caution here – if you’re rotator cuffs/shoulders are giving you pain doing this stretch, modify it so it’s comfortable.

Rotator

This stretch helps keep your shoulders looser than your favorite porn star. You’ll find it helps you recover from long days in the bucket clearing power lines.

Grab a jacket or shirt and dangle it behind your head with your right hand. Standing straight, grab the bottom of the shirt behind your back with your left hand and gently pull up with your right hand. Focus the stretch on the muscles and ligaments in your left shoulder. Then switch sides and repeat.

Neck

USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN STRETCHING YOUR NECK. Stand straight and bend your head to your right, like you’re trying to listen to your shoulder. Apply GENTLE pressure with your right hand, but this isn’t necessary to get a good stretch. Focus on the muscles on the left side of your neck. Then switch sides and repeat.

Neck

Foreams? Wtf stretches THOSE? Let me tell you. I’ve seen the scars from the carpel tunnel survivors. You do NOT want to go there. And all it takes is regular stretching. Trust me, if you want to be in the tree industry for more than 5 years you NEED to do this stretch.

Extend your right arm out in front of you. Tip your fingers toward your toes and apply gentle pressure down on your fingers. Focus on lengthening the muscles on the top of your foream. Then switch sides and repeat.

Neck

Foreams are so important we hit them twice, from both sides. Carpel tunnel and RMI are silent tree worker killers. Fight them off with these stretches.

Extend your right arm out in front of you. Tip your fingers toward the sky and apply gentle pressure up on your fingers. Focus on lengthening the muscles on the bottom of your foream. Then switch sides and repeat.

I usually do this once two times per side. Seriously, all you’ve got to lose is the use of both your arms and hands. Why not?

Alright, now comes the wicked part – time to hit the trees! I’m always amazed at how good it feels to head to work after following this stretching routine. After I started doing this regularly I went from feeling sore, waking up with numb hands and limping out of bed in the morning to full on jackknife jump bed ejections. It might be tough to start, but you’ll noticed that it doesn’t take long to radically increase your flexibility if you keep at it.

Now, let’s get to work. 

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