Hey Moms: Watch Your Back! | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Hey Moms: Watch Your Back!

February 15, 2012

As moms we are constantly pulled in many different directions, mentally and physically.  Coming from someone who has 3 young children and runs her own company I know the days of putting shampoo on the top of your head and watching it quickly run down you and calling that a ‘shower’ because if you stayed in there any longer one of your toddlers would inevitably try to crawl in there with you creating a larger mess than you just not being able to fully shower.  So I know this article will be hard to implement and digest because as moms, we barely take time for ourselves and the only things that really occupy our minds is how can we do 20 things at once instead of 19.  But the fact of the matter is if we don’t take care of ourselves and our backs we will find ourselves in a situation where we can’t.

I will be the first to admit, I know the right things to do but up until my third child I didn’t do them.  It took me becoming crippled to the point of not being able to function to change my ways.  If this article helps even one mom, I will feel some relief.

My children are 4, 2 and 9 months.  When I left the hospital with the third child, the doctor said no heavy lifting for at least 4 weeks.  I looked behind her to see what staff she was sending home with me in order to make this a reality but alas there was none.  So I had to blow off the no lifting orders, like I had to do the other times.  My son was under 2 at the time and 30 pounds and he needed to be carried as did my newborn.  Well it only took a matter of 2 weeks to get to the point where I couldn’t walk.  I have never had an injury take me out in my life.  I swam at the national level and have always pushed through any pain.  Pain, what’s that?  I thought I knew but I had no idea.  I finally found out.  I couldn’t put weight on my leg, I couldn’t function.  I couldn’t lift, I couldn’t go up and down stairs, to try to walk brought tears to my eyes.  I got through my days crying in pain because everything hurt and I was angry at myself because I couldn’t be active with my children.  I am always active with my children but now they had to ‘be careful’ because mommy was hurt and they were scared to jump on me or touch me because even the slightest bump made me see stars.  And I was furious myself because I knew, I knew how not to wind up in that position and yet I did.  So the following are tips are to moms to help you and your back.  Listen to them because while your back does not bother you now, every time you do not follow one of these things you are injuring yourself and those injuries will add up over time, it may be months or years but eventually they will add up to the point where you will injure yourself and you won’t be able to figure out exactly how you did it because all you did was bend over and your back was in excruciating pain.

Feeding – Whether you are breast or bottle feeding your child, use pillows.  The worst thing we do as moms is stand there holding the child or even worse we are hunched over allowing the baby to pull us forward into a rounded shoulder position.  This put tremendous strain on your back, not just your upper back but also the lower back because the muscles that attach to your upper back go down to your lower back, so you are setting up your whole back for injury when you hunch over to feed your child.

This is a picture of some of the muscles of the upper back. Notice how they can travel all the way from the upper back to the lower back. So if you are hunched over and the muscles in the upper back are in the wrong position, the muscles of the lower back are also in the wrong position.

Crib lifting – Probably the most difficulty maneuver for any mom.  There really is no ‘perfect’ way to do this without causing some pain to your back.  The best way to tell you to lift is remain upright as much as you can.  For those children that pull themselves up to stand, have them to do that then there is no need for you to bend over to pick them up and all you have to do is to use your arms to lift.  If your child is unable to stand, then reach your arms straight down and try to lift the child with as little bend in your back as possible.

Bending and lifting – As a mom I don’t think five minutes can go by without bending down and picking something up, whether it be a toy, a child or a piece of food someone dropped.  Bending over at the waist puts on of the highest amount of pressure on your discs that you can.  Therefore, the 100 or so times that you do that in a day, you push your low back discs into a position to bulge and this could be detrimental to you.  Lunging and squatting are the ways to pick things up off the floor.  Yes it does take more time and energy to do so but consider it a workout every time you lunge down to get a child’s toy off the ground or squat down to pick up a baby.

Holding your children – Sticking your hip out to the side and resting your child on it is a very popular position as it does take some of the pressure of your shoulders and neck. However, it puts your back in a poor position and again at risk for disc herniation.  In order to limit the discomfort to your neck and upper back when holding your child for long periods of time without resting them on your hip is to switch sides often.  Hold them in front and to both sides, this will help alleviate the pain you experience on one side that would make it necessary to stick the hip out.

Changing diapers – Changing tables were invented for a reason, to take the stress off your back.  I have been in so many of my friends homes that have make-shift changing tables in different areas of their houses and understandably so you can’t always run upstairs to the changing table every time the child needs to be changed.  But in the event their is an improvised changing table, there will also be a great risk for low back injury.  You need to get as close to on the level with your child as possible.  The best place is the floor.  You are able to sit up straight and change the diaper.  If you need to bend over, simply sit up straight and lean forward at your hips.  This will allow you to keep your back in a safe position.

Exercise – I know, I know as moms we don’t need one more thing to do and this usually falls by the way side.  I understand.  But moving and getting into shape has excellent benefits for you and your child, mentally, physically and emotionally.  The best part is there are programs, like One Fit Mama, where you can bring your child with you to exercise.   Whether its a 20 minute walk around the block or a formal exercise program, getting moving will help limit the possibility of injury.

If you do find yourself in this unfortunate situation it is imperative to enroll in physical therapy as soon as possible.  The longer you wait to start physical therapy, the longer it will take to recover.  The longer you wait to start physical therapy the less likely you will return to 100% function of where you were before.  Physical therapy, depending on your exact injury, will entail manual therapy to loosen up the muscles and then exercises to strengthen and return the muscles to normal function.  Starting physical therapy sooner rather than later will also reduce the amount of time you will need to spend in physical therapy.  For more information on physical therapy go to www.totalperformancept.com.

As a mom the last person you think about usually is yourself.  But the bottom line is just a few minutes of thought about yourself and your posture in a day will allow you to avoid weeks and months were you could be incapacitated.

Call Total Performance Physical Therapy today to schedule your appointment.