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Being a nurse is a challenging and rewarding career, but it also comes with its own set of physical demands. Nurses are at risk for back pain, shoulder pain, and other musculoskeletal disorders due to the nature of their work, which involves lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy loads, as well as being on their feet for long periods.
Musculoskeletal injuries in healthcare occupations are among the highest in the US. No wonder the American Nurses Association and The National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health (NIOSH) are working together to establish a safe environment for nurses.
Proper body mechanics can help prevent these injuries, but many nurses are not aware of the importance of proper techniques or the proper use of equipment.
By understanding the physical demands of their job and taking steps to prevent injury, nurses can continue to provide excellent care to their patients while protecting their bodies.
Here are some tips to help prevent injury and save your back as you take care of others.
Proper posture is essential for preventing injury and reducing the strain on your back and shoulders. Maintaining good posture can help reduce the risk of back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal disorders.
When standing, keep your shoulders back and your chest up. When sitting, make sure that your chair is adjusted to the proper height, and that your feet are flat on the floor. For one thing, you risk suffering from plantar fasciitis if you don’t take care of your feet.
Sitting or standing in a slouched position for long periods can cause muscle strain and fatigue. By maintaining a good posture, you can reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall comfort. Additionally, a good posture can help to improve breathing and digestion.
It’s important to be aware of your posture throughout the day and to make adjustments as needed. Take a moment to check your posture every hour and make any necessary adjustments.
Proper lifting techniques are essential for reducing the risk of injury when lifting and moving patients. The key is to keep your back straight and use your leg muscles to lift. Avoid twisting or bending at the waist while lifting, instead pivot your feet to change direction. This will help to reduce the strain on your back and shoulders.
When lifting a heavy object, it’s important to ask for help or use a mechanical lift if one is available. Never try to lift something that is too heavy for you. This can cause serious injury and can lead to long-term problems.
It’s also important to be aware of the patient’s position and to make sure that they’re properly positioned before lifting them. This will help to reduce the risk of injury and make the lifting process easier.
By following proper lifting techniques and getting help when needed, you can protect your back and continue to provide excellent care to your patients.
Taking frequent breaks is an important aspect of proper body mechanics for nurses. Sitting or standing in one position for an extended period can cause muscle strain and fatigue. Taking a break every hour to stand up, walk around, and stretch your muscles can help to increase blood flow and reduce tension in your muscles.
It’s also important to change positions frequently during the day. This can help to reduce the risk of injury and improve overall comfort. For example, if you’re spending a lot of time sitting, take a break to walk around or do some light stretching exercises. If you’re spending a lot of time standing, take a break to sit down and rest your legs.
Frequent breaks can also provide an opportunity to take a mental break and reduce stress. Taking a few minutes to step away from your work and clear your head can help to improve your overall well-being and performance.
Ergonomic equipment is designed to reduce the strain on your body and increase comfort. Using equipment that is designed to fit the human body can help to prevent injury and improve overall comfort.
For example, using a footrest can reduce strain on your lower back and legs, while an ergonomic chair can reduce strain on your back and shoulders. Properly adjusted equipment can also help to improve posture and reduce the risk of injury.
Ergonomic equipment can also include tools and equipment that are used in the care of patients, such as mechanical lifts and transfer boards. These tools can help to reduce the risk of injury and make patient care easier.
Having the right ergonomic equipment isn’t enough. You should take proper training on how to use this equipment.
Nurses are at risk for musculoskeletal disorders due to the nature of their work. By being aware of proper body mechanics and taking steps to prevent injury, nurses can save their backs and avoid the pain and discomfort that can come with the job.
By implementing good posture, proper lifting techniques, taking frequent breaks, and using ergonomic equipment, nurses can protect their bodies and continue to provide excellent care to their patients.
Need more tips on how to care for yourself as a nurse? Visit our blog to learn more. If you’re looking for opportunities to build your nursing career, there are lots of open positions you can choose from.
Featured Image Credits: Nurse.org
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