Stretching, balance helps improve health, wellbeing

Hennie Pienaar
Hennie Pienaar
Physical therapist Hennie Pienaar opens his injury prevention workshops by asking meat industry staff if they want to live longer or die earlier.

Mr Pienaar began working for Alliance Group as its musculoskeletal injury prevention manager based in Invercargill about 15 months ago.

Alliance wanted to improve the ‘‘complete wellness’’ of its staff, improving their physical, mental and nutritional health, so they enjoyed their work, went home happy and maintained a healthy lifestyle, he said.

The meat processing industry had a ‘‘big struggle’’ to find staff so it was working to retain them.

The goal was to get 80% of Alliance staff to take the workshops by the end of September.

All the staff at the Pukeuri plant had completed the workshop, as had about 700 staff at the Lorneville plant and about 140 staff at the Mataura plant.

In workshops, he showed staff how to bend and move with good balance, making it possible for them to touch their toes.

‘‘That’s how they start believing.’’

He highlighted the importance of moving their feet when working, no matter what their role, to reduce injuries and feel more alert.

‘‘Blood pooling occurs if you’re not moving your feet.’’

In the workshop, the techniques he taught included how to increase grip strength so staff working with knives had the ability to use less energy to do the same task, leaving them feeling better at the end of the day.

Many staff ‘‘lived through pain’’ and the injury got worse over time.

Alliance staff were being asked to report injuries as soon as they were felt so they could be treated before they got worse.

The hope was for a trend to emerge of more injuries being reported but a fall in the seriousness of injuries.

In the workshop, he stressed the importance of stretching.

‘‘A longer muscle is a stronger muscle.’’

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