Due to the physicality of their work, people with travel nursing jobs often find themselves at risk for back pain and injuries. In fact, according to the American Journal of Nursing, nearly half of all nurses experience back pain over the course of a given year. While not necessarily debilitating, this problem can make it difficult for a travel nurse to carry out his or her job, so it is important to find ways to battle this potentially nagging ailment.
There are many ways to do this – learning proper lifting techniques, identifying triggers – but one of the most popular ways among travel nurses today is a steady dose of yoga. Yoga's core tenets of strengthening, stretching and facilitating movement make it an especially effective way to combat back pain. Whether you are a novice or expert, you may find that yoga is an easy, fun and healthy way to reduce back pain that results from your travel nursing job.
Here are some yoga positions, in order of difficulty, that can help you strengthen your back.
Five-pointed star pose
With your feet shoulder-width apart, bring your arms to shoulder height with your palms facing forward. This stretch is perfect for beginners as it relies on your natural balance and allows you to hold the position comfortably for as long as you'd like. Because your body is straight and planted firmly, it is easy to engage all parts of your back, but you should feel this stretch mostly in your lower back. For added strengthening, keep your spine as straight as possible, bring your shoulder blades together and breathe deeply.
This position is one of the yoga's most common positions and allows you to fully stretch your lower back. From a kneeling position with your knees as wide as your hips, lean forward until your forehead and hands are on the ground. Extend your arms in front of you as far as they will go until you are flush against the the ground. You should be able to feel your back stretching from the bottom up, which allows you to simultaneously stretch and relax your lower back. If you do this pose regularly, your back should begin to feel more flexible and sturdy, and back pain should slowly subside.
This position requires a little more core strength, but is easy to adapt to your experience and strength level. While lying on your stomach with your arms by your side and your palms up, exhale gently as you lift your head, chest, arms and legs away from the floor so that you are left resting only on your abdomen and pelvis. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your neck so that you are looking straight ahead. This pose will strengthen your core and lower back, and is particularly useful if you must regularly lift patients or heavy objects.
This is another common pose, especially for people with a little more experience. While lying on your back, bend your knees and set your feet on the floor with your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. Slowly use your planted feet and hands to help you lift your hips until they are almost even with your knees and your thighs are parallel with the floor. Make sure to keep your knees directly above your heels as you straighten your arms and interlace your fingers underneath your back. As you exhale, draw your chest to your chin and gently roll onto your shoulders. You should feel the tension along the length of your spine and into your pelvis. The longer you hold the pose, the more you will feel its effects throughout your back and into your hip flexors, which can help reduce chronic back pain.