Construction Crews ‘Bend and-Stretch’ with Miley Cyrus, Vanilla Ice to Limit Injuries

By JIm Holland | January 24, 2020

It’s called bend-and-stretch, a sequence of exercises that all Mortenson and Scull construction crews participate in before starting their day working on the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center arena project.

“It is how we start our day, every single day,” Max Hey, senior safety engineer for M.A. Mortenson Company, of Minneapolis, told the Rapid City Journal. The company is partnering with Jim Scull Construction of Rapid City on the $130-million project.

Hey said many construction firms nationwide have adopted the practice as a way to prevent soft-tissue injuries among workers. Hey said Mortenson began its bend-and-stretch program several years ago after working with consultants in the sports medicine world. “We sometimes joke and call ourselves construction athletes,” he said.

A series of special stretches include rolling the neck from side-to-side, stretching the wrist out, squats, touching toes — all done in a specific order.

“We’re warming our muscles up correctly, so when everybody heads out to start work, their blood’s pumping and they’re ready to go,” Hey said.

Crews gather each day at 7 a.m. A senior superintendent will speak about the day’s work, then lead the entire crew in the bend-and-stretch routine. Smaller groups will repeat the stretching process after lunch or a break, Hey said.

Often, music will be played prior to or during the stretching exercises. One day, Hey said, the song selection was “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. Because of single-digit temperatures, workers warmed up on a recent Friday to an equally appropriate tune, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice.

“We try to pick songs that will get people in a good mood,” Hey said. “Absolutely, this is a morale builder.”

Photo: In this photo taken Jan. 10, 2020, Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” blares as construction workers at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center construction project in Rapid City, S.D., stretch before working. (Adam Fondren/Rapid City Journal via AP)

About JIm Holland

Holland reports for the Rapid City Journal.

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