If you had to guess, which profession would you say suffers more back injuries, nursing or construction? If you guessed nursing, you’re correct. Nurses with back pain are an all too common occurrence.
Did you know that nurses are three times more likely to suffer a back injury than a construction worker? In fact, nurses are more likely to experience back pain than truck drivers, manual laborers, stock handlers, and construction workers.
Patient handling tasks are usually to blame for the pain. Tasks such as lifting, transferring, and repositioning patients can be difficult for even the most experienced nurses. Factor in the limited space in patient rooms to perform these tasks, and you have a recipe for disaster.
When repeated for a number of years, patient handling tasks alone can wreak havoc on the spine’s health, meaning there’s a possibility of developing back pain without a significant injury.
With 52% of nurses reporting chronic back pain, we believe it’s up to hospitals to implement strategies to keep their nurses pain-free. That’s why here at Nebraska Spine Hospital, we do everything we can to keep our nurses healthy and out on the floor.
Back strengthening exercises can be beneficial for nurses with back pain. Below are three different exercises to strengthen your entire core that can be performed in the comfort of your own home. As you become stronger, you can expect to hold the exercises for longer periods of time and should continue to challenge yourself.
The modified plank is a beginner-friendly version of the plank. To begin, lie on your stomach. Raise your body until your weight is resting on your forearms and knees, ensuring your shoulders are directly above your elbows. Tighten your abdominal muscles and hold for 15-30 seconds. Return to the starting position and rest for a couple minutes before repeating the exercise.
The side plank is a variation of the exercise above. To begin, lie on your left side. Raise yourself onto your left forearm, so all of your weight is resting on your feet and left forearm. Make sure your left shoulder is directly above your left elbow and keep your knees, hips, and shoulders aligned. Tighten your abdominal muscles and hold for 15-30 seconds. Return to the starting position and rest for a couple minutes before repeating the exercise.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and tighten your abdominal muscles. While keeping your shoulders on the floor, let your knees slowly fall to the left and hold for 15-30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the right side. Remember, only let your knees go as far as is comfortable. As you continue to perform the exercise, your flexibility will improve.
Performing these exercises will help nurses with back pain to strengthen their backs and mitigate the risks associated with a career in nursing. However, these exercises are not specific to nurses. If you are experiencing back pain, or simply want to strengthen your core, perform the exercises as instructed above. For more information on how to keep your back healthy, please use our older blog posts as a resource.