Written by: Kelsey Thompson, AIFD

Being a florist can be a physically demanding job. Long days standing at the design table, cutting thick stems, lifting buckets of water, repetitive bending and those 20 minute phone calls that result in a crick in your neck! You may not always feel sore at the end of the day (or hey, maybe you do!), but all those motions can put a short and long term strain on your muscles. We all know that good nutrition, exercise and sleep are going to keep us healthy for the long haul, but I wanted to concentrate on some “preventative maintenance” of specific areas that we florists have trouble with – our necks, wrists and feet. The following stretches are easy to do while standing at work and hopefully will help keep you in tip-top shape!

1. Behind the Back Neck Stretch – This standing stretch can be done anywhere, and will offer a deep stretch in the sides of your neck.

Stand with your feet hip distance apart, arms by your sides. Reach both hands behind your backside, and hold onto your left wrist with your right hand. Use your right hand to gently straighten your left arm and pull it away from you slightly. To increase the stretch in your neck, slowly lower your right ear toward your shoulder. Thinking of creating a diagonal line from your left wrist to your right ear. Stay here for 30 seconds and then switch sides.

I’m also including this Neck Stretch video from Mayo Clinic that has some good information on the importance of stretching and a few examples of some more neck stretches:

2. Hand Pumps – This stretch increases circulation and draws blood flow to the wrists, hands, and fingers.

Begin by placing your hands in front of your chest, facing away from you, like you are giving someone the “stop” signal. Curl your hands into fists and squeeze tight. Hold for 3 seconds. Then open up your palms and spread your fingers as wide as possible so that you feel a stretch and circulation flow in. Hold for 3 seconds, then repeat 5 times.

3. Wrist Roll-Outs -This stretch warms up the supporting tissues of the wrists and brings circulation into the joint.

Start by bringing your palms together in front of your chest and interlacing your fingers, as though in prayer. Bring your forearms close together. Keep your forearms fairly still and make circles with your fists, stretching your wrist towards the 4 compass points (North, West, South, East). Repeat 5 times, then reverse directions.

Standing all day takes a toll on the body, including the hips, knees and feet. We all know the importance of good footwear and a good anti-fatigue mat – let’s talk foot care! In addition to these stretches, try icing your feet and ankles after a long day. “As much as people don’t want to hear it, immersing the foot — as long as the person doesn’t have vascular problems — in a bucket with water and ice for 20 minutes works to combat the swelling and inflammation that prolonged standing creates in the foot,” says Lucille B. Andersen, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon in Pleasanton, California. “Each step we take or minute we stand, we are creating micro-damage that the body has to heal. Using ice is an easy, effective way to help the body heal faster.”

Follow up the ice bath with elevating your feet for a few minutes, or if you’re really lucky, a foot massage! I’m super ticklish, so I have to do this myself or it’s instant uncomfortable laughter, but even just working on pressure points for a few minutes helps. But what about during the workday? Wear proper footwear and alternate standing with one foot slightly elevated (on a short stool or box) to keep pressure off your back. The following stretches will help keep you loose as well!

4. Standing Hamstring Stretch – Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left. Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee (or as far as possible) by bending at the waist. Keep both knees as straight as possible. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat for the other side by crossing your left foot in front of your right.

5. Standing Calf Stretch – To start, stand facing the wall or other support, like a chair, with one foot in front of you by around 12 inches. Point your toes up. Slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in the back of your lower leg. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Do 3 rounds total.

Incorporating just a few of these stretches into your daily shop routine will help prevent wear and tear on your body as well as release some stress. Make sure and check out the IFA’s Facebook page for video demonstrations of these stretches soon!