5 Tips for Parents with Back Pain

5 Tips for Parents with Back Pain

February 1, 2024

Have you ever thought…

“Back pain is inevitable, you just deal with it”
“I know certain things will increase my pain so I just try to avoid them”

These are actual quotes from people who have been active their whole lives and are experiencing parenthood for the first time and experiencing back pain with it. This does not need to be the case! There are a few things that you can focus on that you may not associate with back pain but will usually cause it. Here are the “Top 5 Tips for Parents with Back Pain” from Dr. Bill Renkas of Movement First Physical Therapy.

1. Avoid holding your child on a shifted hip!

As a newborn, this may not be a huge problem but as your child becomes heavier, it is easy to make the “shift.” When you shift your hip to either side and let the weight of your son or daughter rest on it, it puts a lot of stress on your low back joints and muscles. The key fix is standing equally on both feet with strong hip and abdomen activation. This will take the stress from your back and distribute it evenly to your hip and stomach muscles. This will not be easy at the beginning and as you hold for long periods of time it will get fatiguing but your back will thank you if you get the hang of it and these muscles will grow stronger.

2. Combat awkward positions while seated It will happen.

You will be sitting with your baby trying to get it to sleep and be stuck in an awkward position and not want to move! It may start to cause back discomfort while you sit there admiring your sleeping child, or it may begin to set when you finally get up. The goal is to set yourself up for success so that the position you end up in will not cause you pain. Try making sure your knees are at the edge of the chair and your butt is at the back corner. If you don’t fit your couch or chair you may need to add a pillow behind your back to support you so your body doesn’t form a giant C. Once you are able to move or stand up, consider stretching into a backward bend in standing or stretch out on your stomach for a few moments. You could also lie on your side and rotate your trunk into a stretch.

3. Use your hips and core while picking up the car seat and putting your child in the car.

It can be awkward reaching into your car to get your daughter or son into or out of their car seat. It can also be a pain in the back. Picking up the car seat and carrying it can also put a strain on your back. When it comes to positioning yourself for buckling in your baby, make sure your hips are in a position that you don’t have to twist and turn to get your child in and out. It is also important that when getting everything squared away, you are bending at your hips (almost sticking out your butt) rather than rounding or twisting you back. Your hips have much more motion than your back so if you can use them, they save your back from added stress. The same goes for lifting your car seat. Make sure to bend at your hips rather than your back. Engaging your tummy muscles (tensing them like you will get slapped in the stomach) will also help reduce the stress that is put on your back. Car seats themselves are awkward and heavy so it is understandable that you may struggle while holding them. Just do your best to keep your hips and tummy engaged and switch sides as you get tired.

4. Stay hydrated!

Hydration is so important for so many things and muscle health is no different. If you think of a well-hydrated piece of raw beef as compared to a piece of dehydrated beef jerky it is not hard to see why having hydrated muscle helps them be pliable and mobile. Hydration will also help your digestive system allowing for your bowels to move. When you get constipated, it could add to the discomfort in your back. Please, as you are caring for your sweet baby, take care of yourself and drink lots of water.

5. Avoid rounded shoulders and bent forward neck to prevent mid-back pain.

It is okay to be obsessed with how adorable your baby is and it is easy to fall into a posture in which you almost cocoon them as you hold them and look at them. This can put added stress on your upper/mid-back. By simply tucking your chin as if to make a double chin, elongating the back of your neck, and drawing your shoulders slightly back, you can take most of that stress away from your back while you admire your bundle of joy…or change a diaper :).

Bonus: See a Doctor of Physical Therapy!
Moms – if you are having trouble with incontinence or pelvic pain, do not hesitate to speak with a pelvic floor specialist. These symptoms are common, but NOT normal. It can be helped with an evaluation and appropriate actions so that you can laugh, cough, sneeze, and exercise without worrying.

Moms and Dads – if you are having back pain that is not going away or getting worse, reach out to a physical therapist that will take the time to find out what may be causing your symptoms or what movement patterns need improvement, and they will educate you along the way.

Want to talk about a tailored strategy for your pain or feelings of limitation? Sign up for a free video call at callwithdrbill.com

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