Top tips for back health for nurses

Healthcare Australia

Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Top tips for back health for nurses

Nurses are typically considered to be the backbone of the healthcare system, yet 50% of nurses suffer a back injury within their first year of work. Nursing is a physically demanding job as you frequently spend time completing manual handling tasks such as lifting/moving patients and other heavy equipment. Nursing is the occupation that most prevalently suffers from back injuries, even more than the construction industry.

4 tips to maintain back health and help recover from injury:

1. Stretching

Stretch your back regularly and before your shift. Being flexible is a great preventative measure to fight against back pain.

2. Be healthy

Maintaining a healthy weight through good diet and exercise practices is key. This does wonders for your body (including your back!) — extra weight can put a strain on your back and other limbs. Try to take lunch and healthy snacks to work, so you don’t purchase something unhealthy on your break.

3. Sleep

Get enough sleep! A common cause of overexertion is sleep deprivation. Each person requires a different amount of sleep, but establishing a regular sleep pattern will give you more energy to take on that long shift.

4. Appropriate footwear

Wearing appropriate footwear will allow for easy arching in the foot and reduces the chance of slipping. The shoe should be snug around the back of your heel but not overly tight. Nursing shifts can be long, so a shoe that is comfortable for moving around and fits well is extremely important.

4 tips if you have hurt your back:

1. Seek professional help

Seek immediate attention from a professional (general practitioner or physiotherapist).

2. Healthy habits

Eat properly and ensure adequate sleep to give your body the best chance of recovery, like recuperating from any illness. A high-protein diet will create ideal conditions for soft tissue recovery.

3. Control anxiety

Try your best to control your anxiety level over the injury because it will allow for a speedy recovery as the body will put energy into recovering from the injury rather than protecting it against further injury.

4. Rest, rest, rest

A large proportion of serious back injuries are the result of a secondary strain from not resting when a minor injury has already occurred.

So now that you’ve got all this information to keep your back healthy, start practising these tips during your nursing shift and while you’re at home. Remember to eat and sleep well and ask for assistance when required during your shift.

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