Exercise for People On Their Feet All Day

We often hear about how our sedentary jobs are going to kill us from inactivity, but one profession that has the opposite problem is nursing. I was recently asked by a reporter if she had any specific exercise advice for nurses. I thought I’d share it with you here.

Any of this advice applies equally to restaurant workers, delivery people, or anyone else whose job keeps them on their feet all day. If you know anyone like that, by all means share this post with them!

Nurses stand, walk, bend, lift, push, and carry all day long, and all of that is very hard on the body. The top priority for exercises when it comes to nursing is to avoid and alleviate the pain and injury so common to the job. Here are a few exercises that should be done a few times over the course of the day to prevent these problems:

Neck streches–
Stand up straight with your head level. Place one hand behind your back as if standing “at ease”, only with the back of your hand on your lower back. Put the other hand on top of your head, and gently pull your head to the side until you feel a stretch. You should feel the stretch in your neck, shoulder, and a little bit in your core. Hold for 20 seconds, then do the other side. Do this once an hour to help keep your neck muscles loose and balanced.

Chest and shoulder stretch–
Stand up straight with good posture. Put your hands out to your side, and rotate your hands so your thumb is pointing backward until they’re pointing at the wall behind you. Press your shoulder blades together, and hold for five seconds. If you do this once an hour, it will help prevent back, shoulder, and neck pain caused by constantly leaning over your patients and looking down at their charts.

Put your hands on your hips and slowly swivel them around like a hula-hooper. Do this five times per side every hour. It will help keep your hip and back muscles stable and balanced, preventing low-back pain.

Standing row with tubing–
Attach some exercise tubing (just medical tubing with some grips on it) to a coat hook or something else relatively close to eye level on the wall. Holding your hands thumb-side up and your arms straight out in front of you, pull your elbows straight back toward the wall behind you. Do three sets of three reps 12-15 times, at least three times per week.

An unexpected tip–
Walk backwards and sideways at least 10-15 feet a few times each day. Believe it or not, this will help you stay balanced and prevent injury, as you’re periodically recruiting muscles that you don’t normally use.

What you shouldn’t do–
Bench presses, bicep curls, leg presses, leg extensions, and sit-ups on the floor. All these traditional exercises promote over-development of some muscles and the under-development of others. These muscle imbalances can put you at risk for injury, and they don’t promote the kind of stable, pain-free body you need to do your job.

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