When you’re a parent lifting is part of the job, but like most aspects of parenting you don’t get any training for it. However if you don’t take care of your back when lifting this can have serious consequences down the line. Here are some tips and ideas to help keep a healthy back when you are a parent.
Be careful when lifting – don’t bend from your hips. Use your legs and keep your child close to you. Injuries will occur if you pick your child up with your arms outstretched. This happened personally in the summer when moving pilates equipment. After 4 weeks off with no core strengthening, my back just went. It was agony! I had to just lie down and move slowly, so I understand and had to follow my own advice of keep stretching and moving and slowly building up the core exercises.
Kneel or squat where possible – when buckling your child into a car seat it’s a pretty awkward position to stand outside the car and twist in. It’s much easier and better for your back to try and kneel or squat in front of your child.
Use alternate arms – when carrying your child, try not to lift for long periods on just one side.
Check your breastfeeding posture – whilst breastfeeding make sure you are sitting straight and lift your baby to the breast, don’t lean over bringing the breast down. Use pillows to make yourself comfortable and try and sit in a chair with a firm back to support you.
Never twist whilst lifting! – Always lift and then turn.
Pay attention to your fitness – work on your core and strengthen your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. A great way to do this is by joining a Pilates class. During pregnancy the abdominal and core muscles weaken. It is important to rebuild them to help improve your posture and reduce back pain.
Avoid standing for long periods – this increases the pressure on your back. Keep mobile and enjoy gentle exercise such as Pilates, yoga, walking or swimming to keep your muscles and joints flexible.
Don’t rush – you may be lifting heavy, unfamiliar objects such as car seats and push chairs. Move slowly and pay attention to what you are doing.
Don’t overdo it – take a break when and if possible.
What to do if you get an injury:
- If it’s a chronic tightness, stiffness or nagging pain try applying a heat pack.
- If it’s a sudden acute injury, e.g. a pull in the back or twinge in the neck, stop and rest. Use an ice pack if you have one and consult your health professional.
- Do some appropriate stretching or strengthening exercises to stretch tight muscles and improve joint range of motion. You can find exercises online or get a specific programme made up for you by an osteopath. We have a number of back care exercises for you to try here
- A massage is a great way to relax and unwind whilst relieving your sore muscles, so go on, treat yourself!
- Painkillers might be a short term solution but if you want to look after your health in the long run you need to get to the cause of your pain. If pain continues to be a problem or becomes more severe, visit your doctor or osteopath – don’t just put up with it!
- If you notice any other symptoms such as neurological signs (headaches, numbness, weakness), general unwellness or bowel or bladder changes you should contact your doctor immediately.
Here at Farnham Pilates we are running a specific Back Care course small group course in the garden studio from Nov 3rd – Dec 8th. These sessions will take exercises slowly to increase strength, mobilise and stretch muscles, check your imbalances and correct bad habits. If you would like to know more visit our classes page.