Nurses Need to be Mindful of Foot, Back, and Neck Health
Nurses are on their feet for an inordinate amount of time each day. Working a 10- or 12-hour shift can leave your body feeling absolutely drained, with aching feet, a bad back, and neck tightness. While a good night’s rest usually helps, you can’t ignore these aches and pains over the course of weeks and months. You need to listen to your body and make sure it’s getting the support and relief it needs. Instead of “powering through,” take the time to address minor aches and pains before they become chronic, debilitating conditions.
Look out for back pain
Being on your feet for hours at a time, hustling through the hospital hallways, and hunching over to tend to patients can put significant stress on your back. Nurses tend to suffer from lower back pain, whether chronic from routine stress or acute from an injury related to nursing duties.
It’s important for nurses to take care of their backs each day. Unchecked muscle tightness and stress are the catalysts for chronic conditions that only get worse with time. Pretty soon, that minor lower back pain can radiate into total-back stiffness and mobility issues.
To properly care for your back, there are some simple things you can do before, during, and after your shifts. At home, create a back strengthening and loosening routine that combines stretches with stabilization exercises. For example, yoga is a great form of exercise for the back. It’s also important to sleep on a comfortable mattress in a position that supports the natural curve of your spine. If your back starts to hurt, try applying alternating heat and ice packs or even heading to a chiropractor.
At work, make sure you’re bending and lifting appropriately. The pressure of lifting should be on your legs, not your back, and you should only lift a weight you’re comfortable with to avoid strains or injuries.
Foot pain: Another injury trigger
Foot pain and back pain are closely related, so if you have one, you’re likely to develop the other. Standing and walking can put stress on your arches, leading to pain in the legs, hips, and lower back.
To combat foot pain and its radiating effects, it’s crucial that you maintain good posture as you stand and walk. You should invest in a pair of shoes that provide foundational support for your feet, legs, and back. Wearing the wrong shoes for even one shift could have painful consequences!
When shopping for good nursing shoes, look for a pair that’s lightweight and slip resistant and that supports your foot’s natural arch and heel.
Don’t ignore neck and shoulder aches
Nurses are susceptible to developing neck and shoulder pain. This can stem from instability in the back, poor posture, and everyday activities like bending, lifting, and adjusting patients. Unfortunately, these problems cause tension that can quickly cause headaches and chronic neck pain — two things no nurse wants to deal with when faced with a long shift.
Persistent neck problems can impact both your health and your job performance, so it’s not something to be ignored. Fortunately, studies show something as fast and simple as stretching can go a long way in protecting your neck and shoulders from chronic pain.
If you begin to develop back, foot, or neck pain, don’t brush it off and hope it will be better tomorrow. Listen to your body and address these issues before they worsen. By taking simple steps like stretching, wearing the right footwear, and strengthening your muscles, you can protect yourself from chronic pain that impacts your career and wellbeing.