STRETCHES TO DO DURING/AFTER A LONG SHIFT
You’re on your feet all day, reaching, bending, standing and constantly moving and throughout your shift your muscles can get tight. While doing these stretches be sure to take your time and breathe into each stretch.
Why is stretching so important as a nurse?
More energy from increased blood flow
Improved workflow and productivity
Maintain your range of motion
Better balance will help you avoid falls
Less back pain and other aches
We all naturally carry a lot of tension in our shoulders and necks, but lucky for us it is easy to stretch out.
How: Lift your shoulders to your ears, hold for a few moments and relax the shoulders. For shoulder roles just lift and rotate your shoulders forward for a few rounds and backwards for a few rounds as needed. For an extra stretch, tilt your head to your shoulder until you feel a pull in your neck/shoulders and hold for a few deep breaths and switch sides.
Stretching out our wrists and forearms isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s so easy to do!
How: extend your arm out in front of your palm facing down and use your other hand to bend your hand to the floor towards your arm. Hold for a few breaths Flip your palm facing up and use your other hand to bend your hand towards the floor.
The Chest is another area of the body many don’t think of stretching but is just as important for mobility and overall health!
How: Find the Corner where two walls meet stand about 1 foot length away from the wall and lift your arms, each on a wall and gently move your body towards the wall until you feel a stretch in your arms/shoulders/chest.
Another easy stretch you can do ANYWHERE!
How: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. As you lift one arm overhead with your palm facing inward, reach and lean toward the opposite side of the arm raised. Hold for a few deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
This one is a classic, you have probably done it in Physical Education class when you were in school!
How: With or without assistance with balance, stand on one leg and bend your other leg at the knee bringing your foot towards your glute. Grab your foot with your hand and pull it towards your body until you feel a stretch and hold for a few deep breaths. Repeat on the other side. (If you are unable to grab your foot with your hand you can substitute with a chair. Set the top of your foot on the chair and bend your standing leg until you feel a stretch.)
Tight hamstrings can affect your whole body, loosen them up.
How: While standing, place your right foot in front of you. Hinge at the waist to lean your torso forward toward the extended right leg, and bend your supporting knee. Slowly flex your right ankle so that your toes are pulling up toward your body. Hold stretch for a few deep breaths and switch to the other leg.
If you have a few moments to spare during a shift, go a head and stretch out your calves!
How: Stand facing a wall, Place one foot with the toes on the wall and heel on the ground. With foot propped up on the wall, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your calf and hold for a few deep breaths and switch to the other side.
This one is good to do at home before bed!
How: Get on all fours on the floor, from your hands and knees, push your hips back until your butt rests on your heels. (Knees slightly wider than hips.) Keep your arms straight out in front of you and look at the floor.
Cat & Cow Pose:
These poses will stretch your back, shoulders AND neck!
How: Get on your hands and knees on the floor, wrists in line with shoulders and knees in line with hips. Round your back, tuck your pelvis and look toward the floor, as you scoop your abs upward hold for a few breaths and reverse. Bring your belly towards the floor, sticking your butt out with your head reaching backwards.
Stretching out muscles is a great way to wind down and destress after a long shift. You deserve it and your body deserves it. Your body WILL thank you!