As a nurse, you spend your day taking care of patients. The last thing you want is to become a patient yourself. For nurses, the physical demands of the job requires long hours on your feet, bending, lifting, and transferring patients and equipment, which can take a toll on your lower back. In fact, registered nurses rank fifth among occupations most at risk for back strains and sprains – this is higher than stock handlers and construction workers! Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent injury so you can continue to do what you love.
The wrong shoe isn’t going to get you very far in the day. When it comes to finding the perfect shoe, there’s a lot to consider. First, let’s cover the basics. Non-slip and low-heeled are two essential characteristics of a good shoe. Other things to consider are weight, support, and overall comfort. A big thing to keep in mind: don’t trade comfort for style. You’ll thank yourself later.
Lifting and bending techniques
Many nurses report injuring themselves while transferring patients. When lifting, nurses should bend at their knees, using their legs and not their backs. When moving patients, it’s best to use transfer boards and assistance from another person. Before lifting, plan what you’re going to do. Things to keep in mind are keeping your head up, avoid twisting, and keep objects and patients as close to the midsection as possible.
Build your core
When your core muscles are in poor condition, you are at a greater risk of injury. This is because the spine is taking on more responsibility to support the body. By doing some core-strengthening exercises, you’ll build up those support muscles around the spine to add an extra layer of armor between back strain and your spine. Try these simple exercises.
Watch your weight
If you’re overweight, the extra pounds are shifting the center of gravity in your body. This means that more pressure will be felt in the lower back area, which can lead to back strain. Coastal Spine suggests managing your weight with consistent exercise and a proper diet. When you maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and a healthy weight, you’re much less likely to get hurt.
Pull vs. push
When transferring equipment, it’s best to pull rather than push. The muscles used when pulling an object are stronger than the muscles used when pushing. Repeatedly pushing an object can lead to back strain and exhaustion. When you’re pulling, you use more of your arm muscles, which gives you more strength and makes proper moving and lifting techniques easier to follow.
If back strain does occur, doctors at New Jersey’s Coastal Spine are here to help! We emphasize a nonsurgical approach to back and neck problems. Schedule an appointment with us today here.