You’re on your feet for at least 12 hours at a time. You’ve been lifting patients, bending over backwards and tending to the needs of others for your whole day (or night). And unless you have an incredible partner or a maid, you probably come home to a lengthy to-do list.
Despite that, self-care for nurses is extremely important. With the constant strain you put on your feet, legs and back, it’s imperative that you take time at home to stretch and strengthen your muscles and ligaments. What better way to do that than with yoga?
Sound a little too complicated? I promise you don’t have to be a yogi to get these poses right and reap the benefits. Here are just a few simple stretches that work great at relieving the back and foot pain brought on by nursing.
This is perfect for relaxing your legs, ankles and arches. Kneel on the ground, keeping your thighs parallel to each other. Separate your calves just wide enough to make room for your bum, and then sit down between your feet.
Sit up nice and straight, and breathe deeply! If it’s uncomfortable, try placing a small block, pillow or rolled up blanket under your bottom.
This stretches the back of your legs — from your ankles up to your buttocks — while simultaneously strengthening your arms and stretching the arches of your feet. Simply stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and slowly bend down to touch the floor.
Crawl your hands away from your toes until you look like an equilateral triangle from the side. Your hands should be extended in front of your head.
This pose stretches out your legs, shoulders and groin, and it makes you feel like you conquered the world today.
Stand with your legs wide and your feet facing forward. Lift your arms into a horizontal line parallel with the floor. Turn one foot to the side and bend your knee toward that foot, keeping your arms lifted and head high.
This one is certainly more complicated than the first two, but I believe you can do it. I love this pose because it stretches EVERYTHING (or, at least, it feels that way). Plus, it’s great to transition into from the Warrior poses.
Simply straighten your bent knee (from Warrior Two) and dip the arm over that knee down to touch the ground directly beneath your head. Your arms should make a straight, vertical line. Look up to the sky, and breathe deeply.
This requires a bit of balance, but being steady on your feet can be hugely beneficial as a nurse.
Stand on one foot, bringing your other foot to rest and push against your inner thigh. You should push back on your foot with your thigh to keep yourself from tipping over. Then, raise your arms up over your head, and press your palms together. Balance and breathe.
This has to be my favorite position, honestly. It’s soothing, relaxing, and honestly, doesn’t feel like exercise at all. Plus, it does a great job of stretching out your lower back.
Get down on your knees and bend your body to the ground. You can stretch your arms up above your head (pictured), or leave them at your sides. Just be careful not to fall asleep (or, hey, you worked hard today — why not).
Feel better yet? Keep up this simple routine for a few weeks and see if it doesn’t help improve your balance and strength and relieve some of your aches and pains.
And while yoga can help correct existing pain, why not search for comfortable and supportive shoes in our buying guide to keep foot and back discomfort at bay.