How To Protect Your Health: Stretches and Simple Exercises for Home Health Workers
July 13 2021
5 Simple Exercises to Keep Your Muscles Flexible and Relaxed
Being a home healthcare worker can be both rewarding and exhausting. The work you put in each day can take a toll on your body and your mental health. That is why it is so important to take several minutes each day to stretch and relax your muscles.
These simple stretches help keep you flexible, protect you from injury, and can also help to relax you, providing clarity and mental health benefits. These don’t just give you short-term benefits either, but can help you keep up with hard or long hours over the long run.
Remember, stretches should feel good. If you are experiencing pain of any kind, stop the stretch. Also, work within your own abilities, and make modifications when necessary. Be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
Rise and Shine
1 Jump-start your morning with a nice back stretch. Cat-Cow pose can help stretch back muscles, preparing you for the day ahead. It is also a good exercise to get in at the end of the day to relieve sore back muscles. Start by getting down on all fours, looking down and keeping your hands directly under your shoulders and laying flat on the ground. Your knees should be hip-width apart. Your body should be in a table-like pose. As you inhale, raise your chin and tilt your head back, pushing your navel downward and raising your tailbone. Compress your glutes and hold this pose for several long breaths. Then as you exhale, drop your chin to your chest and arch your back up, like a cat does, and relax your glutes. Hold this pose for a few seconds before returning to the table-like resting pose. Repeat these steps as needed.
Balance It Out
2 To help balance and stabilize your back and hip muscles, you can do the Hula-Hoop stretch. This exercise can help prevent and ease lower back pain and can be done pre-shift, during your shift and post-shift for a wind down! Simply place your hands on your hips and slowly swivel your hips in a clockwise motion like you are using a hula-hoop. Do five to ten rotations then repeat going counter clockwise.
3 We carry a lot of stress in our neck and shoulders, so helping to relax these muscles is key to good health. This stretch, like the Hula-Hoop, can be done throughout the day as needed to relieve tension and soreness. To start, stand up straight. Then place the back of your right hand against the small of your back. Then take your left hand and place it on top of your head. Gently pull your head to the side until you feel a stretch in your neck, shoulder and a little in your core. Hold this pose for 20 seconds then repeat on the other side.
Roll It Out
4 Another great exercise to keep your neck, shoulders and upper back nice and loose are Shoulder Rolls. This is another simple exercise that can be done throughout your day to help keep you relaxed. Stand straight with your arms at your sides. Then lift and rotate your shoulders forward for five to 10 revolutions. Then repeat this motion in reverse.
5 End your day with a good wind down with the Happy Baby Pose, which helps to stretch your spine and lower back. Begin by lying on your back then 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. 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 as well, if you wish.
Stretching not only loosens muscles, but can also relieve pain and stress. Don’t forget to also combine these stretches with a weekly exercise routine to ensure optimal health and wellness. Remember to do what works for you so that you can continue to do the work that you love!