Stretches to Do at the End of Your Workday
May 10 2020
A Post-Shift Wind Down for Nurses and Caregivers
Being a caregiver means dealing with a day full of physical and emotional stress. And after a long day it can be easy to want to skip some exercise, but it is important to wind down with a few stretches to keep you limber and to help you release the stress of the day.
Try this stretch to help release tension in your spine. Start by lying on the floor, extending your arms out from you. Then draw your knees into your chest, bringing the knees over the hips and bending at a 90-degree angle. Gently lower your knees to the right, keeping them stacked on top of each other. Next, open your chest away from your legs, squaring your shoulders to the sky, and look away from your knees. Repeat this on the other side, taking 8 to 12 relaxing breaths on each side.
Happy Baby Pose
This pose will help to stretch your spine and lower back and bring awareness to your hip joints. Begin by lying on your back and bend your knees into your belly. Grip your feet with your hands (or use a belt to modify this pose if you have difficulty holding your feet directly with your hands). Then open your knees slightly wider than your torso, bringing them up toward your armpits. Keep your ankles directly over the knee so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor and flex through the heels, gently pushing your feet into your hands as you pull your hands down to create resistance. You can rock gently back and forth for a light lower back massage, if you wish.
This easy pose will help strengthen your glutes and open your shoulders and chest. Begin by lying on your back with your knees hip-width apart bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands by your sides, palms facing one another. Press your elbows and shoulder heads down into the floor and lift your chest, keeping your gaze straight up. Press into your feet and slowly lift your hips away from the floor. Straighten your elbows and interlace your fingers underneath you, keeping the tops of your shoulders in line with the base of your neck. Gently press the center of the back of your head into the floor and lift and open your chest and take a few breaths. Repeat this stretch five to eight times.
Standing and bending all day can take a toll on your knees and back. Help build strength in your quads, core and feet with this pose. Start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart. Lift your arms up, palms facing inward, and allow your shoulders to relax down. Then bend your knees, pushing your hips back as if a chair were supporting you, and allow yourself to lean forward slightly. Allow your thighs to become as parallel to the floor as possible. Prevent your lower back from arching by drawing your navel toward the spine. Look forward and press your weight to the backs of your feet and hold this pose for at least 30 seconds.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
If you only have time for one stretch after your shift, this is the one to do. To help alleviate the pain from standing all day, this pose will help move blood away from your legs. (Doing this right before bed will also help you sleep better!) Start by sitting as close to a wall as possible, with your hips against the wall. Then gently swing your body so that your legs are up against the wall and your head and back are on the floor. Position yourself comfortably and so that the backs of your legs are flush against the surface of the wall and flex your feet. You can rest your hands by your sides or on your stomach. Tuck your chin so that your neck is long and remain here for 10 to 15 minutes, breathing deeply and allowing the mind to relax.
Stretching can relieve stress and relax sore muscles, helping you to unwind and relax at the end of a long day. But don’t forget to also do a weekly exercise routine! Combining both of these will help you keep your mind and body healthy so that you can continue to do the work that you love.