How Nurses can Take Care of their Back


While you are busy taking care of everyone else, do not forget to take care of yourself -and especially your back. Due to the nature of work, lifting patients from one bed to another or from the wheelchair could end up hurting your back.

Most nurses who leave the nursing profession state that back injuries and aches is the primary reason for their decision to quit.

About 38% of nurses miss work due to back injuries every year. Taking care of your back is crucial for a long-term nursing career.

“Prevention is better than cure.”

With an understandably busy schedule, find time to exercise your back and strengthen it for the tasks you do at work. Different types of exercises will enable you to work on various parts of your body.

Planks and abdominal crunches enable you to strengthen your core.

You don’t necessarily need fitness equipment to strengthen your spine. Aerobics, walking, swimming and running are good exercises that stretch and strengthen your back and abdomen.

Careful Lifting
The major cause of back injuries for nurses is lifting heavy patients. When lifting a patient, ensure that they are close to you and the distance is within a safe zone, enabling natural movement of your knees and shoulders. While lifting, you should tighten your stomach muscles and still breathe – do not hold your breath.

The lifting tip is to inhale while lifting and to exhale when lowering the patient. Ensure that the path is clear of any obstacles so that you lift the patient to the expected place easily and without straining. Careful lifting also includes considering the weight of the patient being lifted, and their cooperation in undertaking the task.

Take Breaks
It’s advisable to take breaks from lifting so as to enable you to rest and energize yourself for the next task that may also involve lifting.

Doing repetitive tasks without taking a break causes aches and pains in your body. Therefore, take turns in lifting with your colleagues. Ask for as much help as possible.

Stress Management
Physical or psychological stress causes a backache. Try to practice techniques that help you cope with stress, such as listening to calming music, taking walks, taking deep breaths, and stretching. Learn to relax and listen to your body.

Whenever you get a cue that you need to have a breather, do so, and do not strain your body.

Good Posture
Bad posture can harm your health and also cause back injury. Due to the nature of your work, you may spend a lot of time on your feet or find yourself slouching on a chair when you finally get some rest. Avoid poor posture and form a habit of standing and sitting properly.

Leaning on one leg while standing may seem comfortable but this does harm to your body by causing muscular imbalance and pressure on your lower back and hips. Stand using the correct posture, evenly distributing your weight.

Seek Assistance
Machines are designed to make our work easier. If you have lift devices in your institution, make good use of them. In some institutions, there are individuals whose primary job is to assist in lifting the patients. As a nurse, you will greatly do well to ask for their assistance.

You do an excellent job by taking care of patients – do an even better job by taking care of yourself.


Posted in : Nursing
About The Author
Joyce Fiodembo is a nurse and author. You can find plenty of resources on her blog;, where she writes to inspire and uplift nurses to thrive. Joyce is the author of “The Foreign Nurses Guide to Settling in America” and “How Nurses Cope with Difficult Coworkers” found on Her other book "Reflections and Prayers for Nurses" can be found on She started her career in Kenya where she worked as a travel, ICU and operating room nurse. Joyce works with nurses who may be struggling with cultural challenges, equipping them to settle down easily. She is also a career counselor, helping nurses with interview skills and resume writing among others. Currently working in Ohio, she enjoys volunteering for mobile clinics abroad. Joyce is passionate about writing and currently has a website with a goal of inspiring nurses worldwide. You can visit her website at
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