Do you chuckle every time you hear how bad too much sitting on the job is for your body? The last thing most nurses have to worry about is sitting too much. With packed days, nurses look forward to the few minutes they have to sit down.
But did you know standing too much during your workday isn’t good for you either? You might hate to hear it, but it makes sense. Hours and hours of being upright stresses your legs and back by increasing pressure and overtaxing certain muscles.
What can you do to help counteract all the hours on your feet?
- Take Care of Your Whole Body
Standing can make your back hurt, but having a tighter core can help counteract the strain on that area. If your core muscles are tighter, your back will be straighter and more aligned if you make an effort to stand tall. You’ll feel the relief in your lower back. Keep your core tight with Pilates and yoga, or other core-strengthening exercises like planks or good old-fashioned sit ups.
2. Keep It Loose
One of the toughest parts of being on your feet all day is the way it tightens up your whole body. Add in the lifting and pushing you might be doing during the day, and you can really strain parts of your body that are pretty far away from your feet – especially your neck and shoulders. Periodically stretch your muscles throughout the day. You don’t have to do anything obvious. Just a few neck rolls, calf stretches, and lower back loosening stretches can help combat the inevitable strain of standing so many hours.
3. Be Nice to Your Feet
Not many nurses worry about wearing cute shoes for those 12-hour shifts, so paying extra attention to buying shoes that fit your own feet can make a huge difference in how you feel. Shop around (and ask your co-workers!) for shoes that offer enough support and fit your own circumstances. Are you knock-kneed? Do your feet turn out? Do you have high arches or no arches? All of those characteristics will change the support you get from your shoes. Make a good choice and your whole body will thank you.
4. Take a Break
This might not happen very often, but if you can sit down to take a break, do it. If you’ve been on your feet for six hours, sitting down for 10 minutes will do wonders for resting your body. Bonus points if you can manage to put your feet up!
5. Home Care
Sometimes, you’ll have a week where the only time you sit down is your commute home. Keep relaxing good-for-your-body home care items that are easy to do at home. Chill peppermint foot lotion (or make your own with peppermint essential oil and some of your regular lotion) in the fridge for instantly uplifting relief. Spritz cooling water on your feet and legs (add your favorite essential oils to the bottle if you want) and try to elevate them for a little bit. Use a couple of tennis balls to roll under your feet when you’re sitting down to stretch all the tendons and make your feet feel good. Keep a heating pad at the ready to offer warming relaxation to your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
Nurses can’t avoid lots of standing. And truthfully, the standing and moving you do is probably a lot better than sitting at a desk all day. But that doesn’t mean it always feels good. Take some precautions to care for yourself and to prevent any problems from developing or getting worse (for instance, get any sore veins checked out) because of all that time on your feet. And when you get a chance, treat your body gently to help it recover and refresh.