Today, I wanted to emphasize the importance of developing a strong core. Let’s face it. For 12 hours we are on the go–from administering medications, assisting patients with their ADLs, answering call lights, running in response to bed alarms, starting IVs, running IV fluids, communicating with family members and members of the treatment team, and so much more.
Core workouts are essential for optimal strength at work and in our daily lives. If we take a moment to look at everything we do (not just at work, but at home also):
We stand. We run. We lift. We push. We pull.
And in each movement, the engagement of the core is vital for efficiency and injury prevention (I mean, it doesn’t hurt to have nice looking abs too). So I made the following workout, which can take about 5-7 minutes total, depending on your own pace:
Let’s break it down:
Plank: Start by holding a push-up position with your arms extended, hands flat on the floor, and feet (or knees) touching the floor. Next, extend your legs and make sure your legs are in alignment with your back in a straight line. Then bring your elbows down onto the floor with your shoulders stacked directly above them. Keep your back and neck neutral–not arched and not rounded. Keep your abs tight and squeeze your butt while holding the plank.
Modification: You can plank with both knees on the ground (keeping your spine neutral) if you are unable to keep your legs straight and above the floor.
Bodyweight squat: Start in a standing position with your feet apart slightly wider than your hips. Next, sink your hips backwards as if about to sit on a chair. As you sink your hips back, keep your chest upright, extend your arms out in front of you for counterbalance, and bend your knees (but not past your toes). Keep your weight on your heels. Make sure as you squat downward, your knees are pointing straight (not outward or caved in).
Modification: You may squat into a chair if you are unable to squat comfortably on your own or are experiencing knee issues.
Crunch: Start in a laying supine position with your back flat against the floor. Then bend your knees (enough that your feet are flat on the floor). Next, bring your hands behind your neck and squeeze your abs as you lift your upper shoulders above the ground. As you bring your shoulders off the ground, make sure you are not pushing your neck forward with your hands (your hands are merely there for support–they are not supposed to move your neck). Keep your neck neutral and attempt to crunch upward, parallel to the ceiling (NOT upward in a vertical position).
Bird dog raises: Begin with your knees and hands on the floor in a tabletop position. Bring your knees hip width apart with your palms planted onto the floor, directly underneath your shoulders. Ensure your back is straight while the top of your head is pointed toward the wall in front of you, with your tail bone facing the wall behind you. Next, while keeping your back straight and abs tight, lift one of your legs straight back behind you so that the bottom of your foot is flexed, and your leg is in alignment with your spine. When you feel stable, keep your abs tight and lift the arm (opposite from your raised leg) in front of you, also in alignment with your spine. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Modification: Only raise one extremity at a time if you have difficulty balancing (e.g. right leg up, left leg up, right arm up, then left arm up).
Give this workout a try and tag #UnbreakableNurse for a chance to be featured on our Instagram community! Thanks for reading!