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3 Great Squat Exercises for Nurses

The squat exercise may be the most powerful and effective exercise for nurses.  Not only does it build significant core and lower back strength, but it helps build on some of the largest muscles in your body: the glutes in your buttocks, your hamstrings, and quadriceps.  All are muscles that you should build and rely on to help your patients move in and out of bed, down and up when using the restroom and across when walking down the hallways.

Building on these muscle groups and relying on them more to do lifting and moving will help alleviate the stress on other muscles groups that tend to be overused in lifting patients such as your deltoids and those located in your lower lumbar.

So here are some quick instructions, tips and a video for some fun squat exercises.

Form:  The movement begins from a standing position, feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing slightly outward.  (If you are squatting with a barbell place the the bar across the trapezius muscle or right at where the base of your neck meets your back). The movement begins by moving your hips and butt back and bending the knees and hips to lower your torso and returning back up to standing position.  During the movement you should be keeping your back flat and keeping your stomach tight to help bear some of the weight in the upper body.  The squat can be lowered to various depths, but your hips should descend to at least as low as your knees.  Also, ensure that when the knees are bent they are aligned with the direction of your toes otherwise twisting of the knee joint may injure ligaments in the area.

Helpful Tips:

  • Flat Back with your head and chest up (don’t flex your spine or curve forward)
  • Keep your abominals tight
  • Squat down until your tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor.
  • Don’t let your knees curve inward or point towards each other
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, and point your toes slightly outward.

Here is a short video of three separate exercises and their descriptions are below:

Box Squat
To build on correct form, use a box, seat or raised platform to act as a marker for how low you should squat.  Once your butt touches the box, it’s a signal for you to go back up.  This will help make sure you reach the same and correct depth with you squat every time.

Braced Squat
Adding a little more difficulty, this exercise requires a weight such as dumbbell or weighted plate.  Perform the squat while bracing your arms and holding out the dumbbell or plate.  This will also help build on your shoulders, shoulder girdle and trapezius muscle groups.

Split Jump Squat
No weight required.  Just jump and land into a split leg position with one leg bent in the front with your knee bending to about 90 degrees and the back leg stretched out backward with the knee slightly bent and nearly touching the floor.  Jump and reciprocate to the other leg.

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