Quite often at Inspired Physiotherapy we will see mums with neck, shoulder or back pain. Usually these present as overuse or repetitive strain injuries, resulting from picking up, carrying or feeding little ones often and in poor positions.
Bending over at the waist to pick up children from their crib, the floor, or bending and twisting to get kids out of car seats puts an enormous strain on the lower back. Doing this multiple times a day, every day, and you can begin to see why the lower back can start to get a bit sore and achey. The same goes for carrying and feeding small children, if you are using a single arm to carry them, multiple times a day, the muscles and ligaments in the shoulder, elbow and even neck are going to be putting in a lot of overtime!
So, what are the common traps and how do we avoid these aches and pains?
Picking up kids: Taking a few extra seconds to position yourself well for things like picking up your little humans, putting them in their car seat or feeding time will pay big dividends over time. Rather than bending at the waist, squat or kneel to get lower to the ground. Ensure your feet are apart as a wide base of support will create a more stable base of support. Bring the child close to you before standing, it is much easier to lift any weight when it is close to your body.
Putting kids in the car: With car seats, hop in and face the child seat, rather than bending in from outside. Try not to carry the car seat / baby in one arm, use both hands and hold the seat close to you.
Feeding: When feeding, try not to slouch – use a pillow to bring baby up to the correct height (or if you’re out and about your baby bag / handbag), and ensure your back is supported (comfortably against the back of a chair, for example). It is also important when feeding bub (especially for breastfeeding) to keep the wrist in a neutral position to avoid aggravation of the wrist tendons which can cause tendinitis.
Nappy changes: Changing a nappy can be another back and neck pain trap. Try to use a waist height bench or the change table when standing and avoid changing bub’s nappy on the bed. If you do have to use a bed to change the nappy it’s best to pop a pillow on the floor for your knees and kneel down. This reduces the distance that your back and neck will have to bend.
So a few general tips…
- Get close to the level your child is on when picking them up – squat or kneel with a wide base of support
- Bring them close to your body/chest when picking them up
- Avoid bending or twisting of the back
- Use pillows or cushions to set up the right position when feeding
- Alternate which hip you carry your little humans on so as not to put your back or shoulder out
- Change nappies at a waist height bench or table where possible
It only takes a few extra seconds, at best a few extra minutes, to be more conscious of your position throughout the day, take that extra time to take baby to the change table or grab that pillow or kneel down to them. Outside of getting into a better position the best thing you can do to avoid aches and pains is set aside some time for yourself – regular exercise and, if needed, the odd massage will do wonders.
Taking the time to exercise is particularly important – keeping yourself fit and healthy will lessen the impact of parenting duties on your body, as well as help you keep up with the kids for many years to come!
Inspired Physio, based in Baulkham Hills, has a special offer just for HDMs! When you book your first consultation just mention you’re a Hills District Mum and when you attend your appointment you’ll receive a free foam roller valued at $40 and fabulous for helping manage those mummy aches and pains.