You spend most of your day caring for patients, and that can be a full body workout. After a long 12-hour shift, the last thing you probably want to do is go to the gym. And while we certainly don’t blame you, your personal fitness shouldn’t always take a back seat. With just a few minutes each day, you can actually help prevent potential injuries and increase your endurance when you practice these 4 simple stretches for the travel nurse:
Cat and Camel Stretch: This easy to learn stretch can help relieve lower back pain and help strengthen your spinal cord. According to WebMD, a static Cat and Camel stretch can be done using the following steps:
- Lace your fingers together and turn your palms to face outward in front of you.
- Reach your arms as far as you can, curving your back and shoulders forward.
- Hold for roughly 10 seconds.
- Release your fingers, and grab your wrists or fingers behind your back.
- Raise your arms as high as you can behind your back without releasing your hands so your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.
Lying Bed Stretch: According to nursing blog Scrubs.com, the lying bed stretch can help reduce back and neck pain. And the best part? As its name implies, you don’t have to leave your bed for this one!
- Simply lie back on your bed.
- Raise both arms over your head, so that your elbows face the ceiling and your hands dangle over the edge of the bed.
- Hold for 15 seconds, then slowly bring your hands back to your side.
- Repeat one to two times as needed.
Half Dog at the Wall: This modified yoga pose is also great for the busy travel nurse. All you need is a wall and a few seconds of free time. Doyouyoga.com suggests this stretch to help relieve stress and boost your energy level:
- Stand facing a wall, about a leg’s length apart.
- Place your hands on the wall roughly at shoulder height.
- Press your hands against the wall, and bend your knees a bit and slowly walk your feet away from the wall.
- Keeping your hips positioned over your feet, gradually walk out until your arms are straight and form a long line with your torso and belly.
- Push your arms strongly towards the wall, while creating an upward lift from your knees to your hips.
- Gradually straighten your knees.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Slowly come back up.
Supine Pelvic Tilt: This classic exercise routine works well for those of you who suffer from low back pain. So basically, all nurses everywhere, right? This stretch can take a bit more time, but it’s worth the effort! The American Council on Exercise recommends you follow these steps:
- Lie back on a mat or the floor with your knees bent, your feet flat on the ground, and your arms at your sides in a “T” position.
- As you exhale, use your abdominal muscles to press your low back into the floor. Be careful to not lift your hips. Hold this position for a short time.
- Next, slowly inhale and slant your pelvis in the opposite direction. This should create an arch between your low back and the floor. Again, make sure to keep your hips and tailbone on the ground. Hold this position briefly, then return to your starting position.
- Rest a few seconds between each set. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can do 2-3 sets at a time.
As a travel nurse, you’re constantly on the move, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with constant back pain and stress. These quick stretches can help you let go of stress, relieve your tired and sore muscles, and help prevent personal injuries on the job.
What other activities help you unwind after a long day?