Best Exercises and Stretches for Nurses
The best stretches for nurses are both dynamic and static in nature. Sure, you'd stretch before or after a workout but are you stretching daily or even weekly? We know it can be hard to take the time to do pretty much anything for yourself during your shift as a nurse. Even restroom breaks seem to be few and far between. According to physical therapists, stretching should be done daily to maintain mobility and independence, regardless of your age. Start stretching now, even if you just started your nursing career, and you'll thank yourself for years to come!
Why is Stretching Essential as a Nurse?
- Improved flexibility
- More energy from increased blood flow
- Improved work flow and productivity
- Maintain your range of motion
- Better balance will help you avoid falls
- Less back pain and other aches
Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching
Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for some amount of time, usually between 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretches will be the most realistic form of stretching you will have time to complete as a nurse. You'll be able to do these even if you're on assignment as an RN in a new place. Dynamic stretching is stretching for some amount of time over 10 seconds with added motions. Experts advise dynamic stretching for improving range of motion for functional movement over static stretching. These can be a bit more difficult to discreetly pull off in a facility or hospital thus these can be completed on the weekend or during workouts.
These are our favorite stretches from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
Inhale and as you exhale twist to the right grabbing your chair to help increase the twist. Holding the twist, set your gaze over your right shoulder. Challenge yourself to catch a glimpse of as much as you can over that shoulder. Repeat this stretch to the left.
Stretch your one hand out in front of you with your palm down. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers down toward the floor. Next, bend the wrist and point your finders up. Use your other hand to pull it closer to yourself. Repeat with the other hand.
Loosen up your shoulder by lifting your shoulders up to your ears. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat this exercise three times. Shoulder shrugs are great for relaxation, in addition to added flexibility.
Grab the seat of your chair while sitting straight up. Extend your right leg straight so that it is parallel to the floor. Point your toes forward and then flex them back five times. Release your foot back to the floor. Repeat with your other leg.