I touched on this subject previously and today I’m going to go into much greater detail on stretching exercises for nurses and cover the exact ones I have implemented into my own personal daily regime. The majority of these stretches are standing exercises. The reason for this being we really don’t get much chance to sit down during a shift, so when I was researching for actions I could take to help myself and found these stretches/exercises I took into account the space needed to do them in a busy ward. Also, I would pretty much be able to do them wherever I was standing.( I actually do them in our tea room the majority of the time, but you get my point.)
The stretching exercises I will be talking about are standing lower back stretches, the best stretches for hip pain and standing stretches at work for plantar fasciitis. In relation to plantar fasciitis stretches I will be also covering a few sitting stretches and stretches to do before you get out of bed in the morning.
I personally use the back and hip pain stretches every day and my husband Peter uses the stretches for plantar fasciitis several times a day and they have improved both of our situations significantly. Peter spends a lot of his day driving and sitting in the same position and had suffered with sore feet for a long time. He visited a doctor and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. It was then he decided to do something about it and we took action to help him. This is when we got him the correct shoes and supports for his feet and he started to do some exercises we found for plantar fasciitis. He also does a couple of the lower back stretches more as a preventative measure than for relief, as his back is not a problem presently.
Even if you don’t suffer with the ailments we are discussing, regular stretching is still recommended as a preventative measure as you can be struck down with these pains at anytime and without warning.
Standing lower back stretches
These stretches include the toe touch, the rotational stretch and the hyper extension. These are great at preventing and relieving lower back pain.
- Toe Touch – Stand upright with your feet about 18 inches apart with your hands on the front of your thighs. Bend forward from your waist and run your hands down your legs towards your feet. Stop when you feel your hamstrings and lower back stretching. Then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this about 5 – 8 times stretching a little further each time. On the last repetition your hands should be a lot closer to your toes than the first time you did the stretch.
- Rotational Stretch – You should perform this stretch periodically throughout your shift and it will really help with lower back pain and stiffness. Stand upright with your feet 12 inches apart. Cross your hands in front of you across the chest. Keep your hips facing forward and your feet flat. Now twist to your right until you feel your lower back tighten and hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Don’t hold your breath, breathe normally. Every time you breath out twist a bit more. After the 20 – 30 seconds return to starting position and then do the same on the opposite side.
- Hyperextension – Back – Whilst you are stood with your feet 18 inches apart, put your hands on your lower back with your fingers pointing towards each other and your thumbs around your sides. Now lean back as far as possible without falling over and lift the neck to look upwards and behind your body. Hold this for two seconds and then return to where you started. Do this exercise 10 times and try to push it a little more each time without over doing it.
Standing stretches at work for plantar fasciitis
If you suffer with plantar fasciitis the pain can be very intense just after getting out of bed as the plantar fascia tightens during sleep due to lack of movement. Doing some stretching exercises before standing up is highly recommended to loosen this part of your foot and relieve pain.
Stretches to do before getting out of bed
- Foot lift – Flex your foot up and down from the ankle 10 times.
- Toe stretch – Sit up and put your heel on the floor. Hold your big toe with your hand and pull it back and up. Hold this for 20 – 30 seconds and do this 3 times for both feet. These should be done several times throughout the day.
Standing and sitting stretches to do at work
- Towel stretch – Sit on the floor and keeping your leg and knee straight place a rolled up towel under the ball of your foot and holding both ends of the towel. Now pull the towel towards you whilst all the time keeping your leg straight. Hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Do this stretch 3 times for both feet.
- Toe curls – Whilst sitting curl/scrunch your toes in towards the bottom of your feet. Keeping pressure to the floor with your toes return to the starting flat foot position. Do these stretches 5 times for both feet.
- Ball rolling – Remove your shoe – Place a ball or water bottle ( or something similar )under your foot and roll the foot backwards and forwards over the ball or water bottle. Do this as often as you can throughout the day. This will loosen off the plantar fascia and provide relief.
- Standing step/stair stretch – Stand on a step whilst holding the banister or with a strong hold of something ( If no Banister). Your toes and the ball of you feet should be on the edge of the step with feet together. Slowly drop your heels down over the edge of the step by( relaxing your calf muscle) until you feel a gentle stretch across the bottom of your foot and in the back of your lower leg. Hold for 20 seconds then lift the heel and tighten the calf muscle to return to your starting position. Do this 3 times. This should not be painful. Do the exercise just until you feel a gentle stretch. Try not to over-do it.
Best stretches for hip pain
The stretches I have found for hip pain can pretty much be done in any workplace and are quick to complete.
- Hip flexor stretch – Kneel down with one of your knees on the floor and your other foot in front of you with the knee bent. Push your hips forwards whilst keeping your back upright. Hold this for 15 – 25 seconds and then do this again on the opposite side. Do this stretch a few times for each side.
- Standing outer hip stretch – Stand side on to a wall and support yourself by putting a hand on the wall. The leg you are going to stretch needs to be crossed behind the other leg. From this position push your hips away from the wall and keep your knees straight. Hold this for 15 – 25 seconds and then return to your starting position. Then do the same for the opposite side. Do this stretch a few times for each side.
Stretch every day – Keep aches and pains away
Since I have been using stretches as part of my daily routine my life has improved significantly. I cannot stress just how much my life has improved since implementing these stretches into my daily life, It’s not all down to the stretches alone but they are a large contributor to my wellness in my life, The good thing about these stretches are that they cost nothing and you can start them today.
It may take a little time for you to figure out which ones are best for you and you may feel a little silly at work the first few times someone sees you doing them but that passes very quickly as soon as you realize you’re feeling less pain.
You’ll find it’s a gradual process At first you’ll notice it’s slightly less pain and discomfort and then you’ll notice you are finding things that are normally hard to do, due to being painful getting easier. Then once you have checked which shoes you need and you have the right ones with the correct inserts ( if you need inserts ) and applied all of this into your daily routine including resting and the other relaxing measures I have previously talked about, I truly believe you will notice the profound effects this will have to your well-being.
That’s it for now I hope that some of this helps you.
If you come across any other stretches that you can do that work please let me know and I will add them here.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment in the box or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be pleased to answer them.
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