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The fit-for-work workout for nurses

From the Fall 2011 issue of Scrubs

We don’t need to tell you that nursing is hard work, but it might interest you to know that only truck drivers, laborers and movers get injured more often than nurses. Sprains, strains and garden-variety back pain are particularly common among nurses and often a result of regular workaday maneuvers: transferring patients between beds, lifting them in and out of chairs and beds, assisting them to stand and walk, and helping them up when, god forbid, they fall.

You can protect yourself by improving the strength and flexibility of the three main muscle groups that bear the brunt of nursing-related abuse: the core muscles in your back and abdomen; the gluteals and hamstrings on your backside; and your upper back and biceps.

The following eight exercises target these areas. The routine is short and should take you only about 15 minutes. For best results, do it three times a week, working up to every day, and before you know it you’ll be stronger, more stable and more resistant to injury. Remember, fitness is an ongoing process; you’ll get better as you progress.

Keep in mind these key training points:

• “Start low, go slow.” Take your time and use proper form as you do each exercise. Start with the lower number of repetitions indicated and work up to a more challenging set.

• Use “focused activation.” As you go about each exercise, visualize your muscles becoming stronger and more efficient each time you squeeze, then relax.

• Make each repetition better than the last. As soon as you lose form or can’t keep the muscles activated, stop, rest, then move on to the next exercise. Two perfect repetitions are better than 10 lousy ones.

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