Back Care for New Parents
Parents experiencing back pain
An alarming number of close friends and family members (males and females) have had back issues of late and they all have one thing in common: they have had children in the last 12 months.
I am quite confident the main cause of their back problems stem from repetitive lifting of the baby from low heights. The mothers are even more susceptible due to the pregnancy hormone, relaxin, which makes their ligaments ‘looser’ which increases the risk of back pain after child-birth. Relaxin is in their system to loosen their ligaments which allows the pelvis to increase in diameter to allow the baby to exit more easily during the birthing process, but it has negative consequences for the general stability of the spine.
Over the years, I have treated hundreds of patients in this situation, and also have a 13kg two year old child, so I can impart a few common strategies that can prevent back pain from developing, and also allow a speedier recovery with less risk of recurrence.
Safe lifting technique
When bending to pick up or put down your child, ensure your back is straight, stick your backside out, and bend at your hips so you feel a strong stretch down the back of your legs in your hamstring muscle. Try it now. If you don’t feel a stretch down the back of your legs, you are bending incorrectly and placing your back under strain!
Hold your child close
Always keep your child held against you when putting them in the bath, the cot or the car, as the further you lift your child away from you, the more stress passes through your back.
Posture over the changing table
If you have to be in a sustained bent over or flexed position like when changing nappies or bathing, aim to minimise the flexion bending of your back, by either lunging or kneeling or doing the splits so that you lower yourself to the change table or the bath, rather than bending over in a flexed position.
Strengthen your back muscles
Do some back strengthening exercises like lying on your stomach with your arms above your head, and lift your arms and head and chest off the floor and hold for 5 seconds and lower yourself down and repeat 10 times twice a day. This strengthens the muscles that hold us up against gravity when we bend over and lift things. Pilates is also great for back strengthening.
To give your back the much needed relief it deserves, you need to reverse the forward flexed position you spend so much time in. This can be done simply by lying over BakBalls, allowing you to extend your spine at each level and mobilise your stiff joints. Read our article How to Use BakBalls to learn how to relieve pain and improve posture.
So to avoid back pain follow these tips and you can hopefully enjoy a pain free existence with your children. If you have any questions about back and neck care, don’t hesitate to email Specialist Sports Physiotherapist and inventor of BakBalls, Mark Alexander at BakPhysio at firstname.lastname@example.org.