Can Working Out Help Prevent Injuries?

As nurses we know that work related injuries can be high for our profession. Below is a contributing post about these daunting statistics, and a brief overview about the benefits of an exercise routine. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, on the job injuries alone cost $192 billion a year on average in the United States. The annual total includes the cost of healthcare providers, hospital visits and treatment, as well as lost worker output and wages, among other factors. Of the nearly 8.5 million people who are injured every year (23,000 daily), more than 5,000 of them die as a result of their injuries.

The cost, injury, and death totals are astounding, and they have the attention of the government, employers, and insurance companies alike, who consistently seek out ways to reduce the number and severity of on the job injuries. The types of injuries that garner the most attention, of course, are those which are classified as the most common.

Common Injuries

The most common work related injuries that require time off from work to recover are those of the shoulders, back and knees due to overexertion. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 443,560 strains, tears and sprains were reported as on the job injuries. Of those, 63% were due to overexertion, 23% were due to falls, slips and trips, and the remaining 14% were a result of contact with objects, violence, and transportation incidents. The location of said injuries breaks down as follows:

  • Back: 36%
  • Shoulder: 13%
  • Knee: 12:
  • Ankle: 9%
  • Multiple: 8%
  • Arm: 4%
  • Wrist: 3%
  • Neck, hand, foot: 2% each
  • All other: 9%

162547867Overexertion, falls, slips, and trips are all common workers compensation injuries. So, if you do suffer from a similar injury while on the job, you are likely qualified to receive workers compensation. However, avoiding injury in the first place is the goal.

So, aside from remaining aware and following safety protocol, what can employees themselves do? The answer is actually pretty straightforward. Simply focus on physical health through regular exercise. The better shape we are in the easier it is for us to rebound from injury. Additionally, when we’re in good physical condition, and we do get injured, the injuries are often less severe than they would be otherwise, and we may even be better equipped to avoid injury altogether. Here are a few tips you can use to help increase your overall health, as well as decrease your chance of suffering from an on the job injury.

Back and Shoulders

Since a disproportionately high percentage of injuries occur to the back and shoulders (49%), these are key areas to strengthen. You should engage in exercises that focus on stretching and strengthening the back at least 2 to 3 times a week, according to guidelines provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Since the workout will focus on your back, your shoulders will automatically benefit. But, there are also shoulder-specific exercises you can do.

If you’re searching for exercises to help strengthen your back and shoulders, be cautious about those exercises which will actually injure your back further. These include stretching out while in a ‘V’ position, leg lifts, and touching your toes while standing, among others.


Knees don’t require strenuous exercise. Gentle knee-focused exercises will do the trick, and will save you from further injuring yourself. Hamstring stretches, sit to stand, calf stretches, and the pillow squeeze are good strengthening exercises for your knees. They are also gentle enough to be safe for nearly everyone.

Of course, before you start any new workout routine, it’s recommended that you first consult your healthcare provider. He or she may place limitations on exercise types and level of exertion, depending on your physical condition.

An easy exercise routine that focuses on your back, shoulders and knees will not only improve your overall health, but it may also help you avoid injury at work. If you do suffer from an on the job injury, the healthier you are, the faster you can recuperate. That means you can get back to your life and your job just that much sooner.


  1. elizabeth scala on January 31, 2014 at 9:27 am

    YES! Exercise can absolutely help prevent injuries. Thank you for sharing this article with all of your readers. When we do the things that keep us healthy we prevent the things that make us sick. I love it! Great reminder for us all to get out and moving. And yes, I am happy to report that (while sore) I did get up and moving myself again!

  2. WorldNursingJob on September 24, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Yep, exercise and getting fit always is a must for nurses! Learn to lift, jog early in the morning or defending on your shift. But remember not to overdo it. Cheers nurses!

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