When jobs are as physically demanding as those in hospitality, the importance of looking after our physical health to support our overall wellbeing cannot be underestimated. Physical pain takes its toll on our mental health and when it is left unaddressed, it wears us down.

Recognising and addressing these challenges is not just a matter of employee welfare; it’s also a business imperative. Muscular-skeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 27%1 of new and long-standing cases of work-related ill health in Great Britain during 2022-2023. These conditions can affect employee morale, turnover rates, and the overall quality of service, potentially impacting your reputation and bottom line.

Front of house and back of house staff often endure long hours on their feet, performing repetitive tasks and handling heavy loads. Chopping ingredients or carrying trays, coupled with prolonged standing, can strain the muscular-skeletal system. Over time, this can lead to chronic pain, joint issues, and even long-term disability.


Implementing a routine of the following simple exercises can be a powerful tool in preventing injuries and improving physical wellbeing:


Purpose: To relieve wrist strain from repetitive tasks like chopping or carrying trays.
How to Do: Extend one arm in front of you, palm facing down. Gently pull the fingers back with the other hand, hold for 15 seconds, then push them forward, holding for another 15 seconds. Repeat on the other hand.


Purpose: To counteract the forward hunch and relieve upper back tension.
How to Do: Stand or sit upright. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.


Purpose: To improve circulation and reduce the risk of leg cramps from prolonged standing.
How to Do: Stand with feet hip-width apart, slowly raise onto your toes, hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat 15-20 times.


Purpose: To alleviate neck and shoulder tension.
How to Do: Gently tilt your head towards one shoulder until a stretch is felt on the opposite side of your neck. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch sides. For shoulders, roll them forward and backward in a circular motion 10 times each.

Supporting staff by encouraging regular breaks and giving them space to stretch or relax tired muscles is just as important as training in proper lifting techniques and ergonomics. Offering a contribution towards supportive footwear or laying anti-fatigue mats for staff (where hygienically compliant) will also help ease leg pain during long shifts.

Small, inexpensive steps can go a long way to improve the physical wellbeing of your staff and is a worthwhile investment, after all, a healthy team is the backbone of any successful hospitality business.