Every Nurse Should Fall in Love with Squats and Deadlifts

These killer exercises are good for everyone — but specially nurses

A patient is sliding down his wheelchair. A heavy guy, not overweight but just a big guy. No leg strength so he was on his way down to the floor. Another nurse and I tried to prevent a fall. If a patient is falling you might not be able to stop it but you should try to lessen the impact, so we tried to save this guy from hitting the floor.

We grabbed him by the shoulders. We needed to get him back up in the chair so we lifted him straight up from the floor. He weighted at least 200 lbs, so it was 100 lbs for each. Should we have used a Hoyer lift? Yes, did we do it? No.

I squatted like I do at the gym and lifted. The other nurse was like an L upside down. She had her back on bent at a 90% angle as she pulled him up using her back! I told her she was going to hurt herself, but she stared at me like I had two heads. this is the way I always do she said.

Nurses either hurt themselves right at work or it happens years later. There are also other problems associated with nursing work. Moving heavy patients can cause direct injury but hospital working environment has variety of activities that can lead to injury.

Hospital workers experience more back pain and injury then any other professional. Activities such as bending, twisting, awkward static postures, psychological stress, and frequent heavy lifting are all factors contributing to back pain and back injury. Nurses more then any other worker will benefit from having a strong backs and knowing how to use it correctly. Hospitals should provide education, training and massage. Unfortunately, it does not happen often enough or simply never; other than just a few words at orientation. You have to protect yourself because no one will.

Nurses are under constant stress

Your body becomes tight under stressful situations and you seldom pay attention to posture when you’re tense. When you do a lot of thinking in your head, your body becomes less intelligent. Your ability to stop and study movements is diminished or simply not there when you quickly have spring to action. This can hurt you more then you even know. Sometimes injury takes place later when you are just doing things at home. Because your body was already stressed by an accumulation of problems, one wrong simple movement can cause injury. Stress alone can cause lower back pain, but stress combined with actual muscle and joint insult is much worse and nurses are exposed to that everyday. Nurses are also exposed to another kind of injury — violence.

Sometimes patients will hit nurses. This can happen anytime and unexpectedly. Nurses work in close proximity to mentally unstable patients who are also over medicated and may have dementia. Confused patients might swing at nurses out of fear and frustration. The more alert and quick you are the better your chances to avoid being hit. All these problems can be prevented or lessened by having a strong body, a strong back and also a better understanding on how to use it or to move heavy objects.

Deadlifts and squats

Weight lifting is the best exercise you can do in order to promote a insanely strong back. Handling weights also give your body the education you need in order to function and perform the movements it was designed to do. Some people are afraid of hurting themselves while they lift weights but done progressively and with the aid of an instructor it can completely rebuild your back and core and make your super strong thus promoting low risk for injury.

Dead lifts and squats for nurses are great because it is all about back and core but they offer you more then that. They strengthen the largest muscles in your body: back, gluteus maximus and associated muscles, legs, arms, shoulders and trapezius. Deadlifts basically works your whole body. Deadlifts and squats work more muscles then any other exercise. It is relatively risk free as long as you have initial instruction to establish form and routine practice. It is the exercise which most simulate the movements nurses do on daily basis. Anyone can do it, no matter how old, how out of shape and how weak up your back is. If you had a back injury needing surgery you should consult a specialist before you start. There are other interesting facts about deadlifts and squats.

Most back injuries are caused by a movement your vertebrae is not supposed to be doing. We as animals are not suppose to use our torso as we usually do. The muscles in our torso and core are suppose to keep our column erect and that’s it. They are actually suppose to keep your column from moving so they work isometrically. We are so accustomed to use your back and torso as working horses that we end up hurting ourseves. Deadlifts and squats will teach your body to use your core correctly and strengthen your legs, arms, and butt so they will do the lion share of the work. I strongly recommend a book called New rules of lifting. This book is inspirational and written for persons that never heard of weight lifting before. The book also has a very clever presentation of how we as humans have been using our body for millions of years and therefore tries to emulate them with free weights.

Let you butt do the work

Its all about the butt. Remember, the gluteal muscles are the most powerful muscles in the body. Among other things they are responsible to maintain your torso erect. If we don’t train your body correctly you end up losing the power these muscles provide. By deadlifting you’ll train your butt to be a power house. Your butt along with your thigh muscles not only will look great but they will do the work they were meant to do — support your body and power all movements you need to perform. If you ask any martial art person they’ll tell you — the strength of your movements come from a strong core, butt and legs.

This is why nurses should do it

Because nurses lift dead weights and squat all the time at work — these exercises turn their backs into insane powerhouses of strength

Other benefits

Another hidden benefit of lifting weights is that you learn about what it takes to lift a certain weight. You’re able to better evaluate how much something weights, then you make better judgments on how to actually lift and handle these loads because you done it in you lab “the gym”. Your assessment of how heavy something is along with the right approach on how to handle it, will be highly improved.

Of course it goes without saying that when you lift, you’ll feel much better overall. Weight lifting promote happiness and improve brain health. Improve energy management, weight control, and blood sugar levels. Muscle building will improve all hormonal functions which promote a cascade effect on overall good health.


  1. Low back pain: prevalence and associated risk factors among hospital staff
  2. Biopsychosocial factors are associated with low back pain in female nursing students: A cross-sectional study
  3. Do Assistive Devices, Training, and Workload Affect Injury Incidence? Prevention Efforts by Nursing Homes and Back Injuries among Nursing Assistants
  4. Evaluation of Work-related Psychosocial and Ergonomics Factors in Relation to Low Back Discomfort in Emergency Unit Nurses
  5. Stress causing psychosomatic illness among nurses
  6. Low Back Pain in Primary Care
  7. The Effects of Employer-Provided Massage Therapy on Job Satisfaction, Workplace Stress, and Pain and Discomfort

Image credit: flickr.com




State of the art lover, ocupies a cave in India, nurses the elderly and the dying. Was a goat in his last lifetime

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Leonardo Del Toro

Leonardo Del Toro

State of the art lover, ocupies a cave in India, nurses the elderly and the dying. Was a goat in his last lifetime

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