A Guide for Mums to Improve their Posture, Reduce head aches & straighten up
Motherhood can create great wear and tear on your body. We are constantly lifting babies, nursing them, balancing all the groceries in one hand while we open the car, carrying baskets of washing and all sorts of crazy manoeuvres to get through our day. Even our body changes, such as larger breasts and shifted centre of gravity during pregnancy will adjust our everyday posture.
Prolonged or frequent periods of putting our body in awkward positions can stretch some muscles, tighten others, lead to postural problems, create body tension & headaches. The same can be said for exercising with poor technique, as your muscles are practising getting stronger in the wrong form.
The most common physical changes a new Mum may start to see is the forward & rounded upper back, in the thoracic region. Mums may experience sore tight, neck and shoulders, headaches and even loss of sleep. Even if you aim to simply sit or stand up straight, if these muscles are not strong they will become tired quickly and it’s easy to slump back into a comfy couch with poor posture.
This blog will highlight 7 essential areas in your life that you can make small Ergonomic changes to reduce your chance of injury, strengthen your body and make motherhood a little easier. There is a lot of info here, so start by focusing on a new area each day.
Weather your are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the ‘cradle position’ to hold your baby normally consists of shoulders rounded forward to hold your baby, head hanging forward as you loving gaze into your babies eyes or quickly check your facebook status and slumped in a comfy chair.
Try these simple changes:
- Place a pillow under your baby
- Bring your baby up to your breast, rather than you leaning forward
- Sit upright in a firm chair, have support for your arms (cushion or arm of chair)
- Tuck chin to chest
Make your Home more Ergonomic
What do you do regularly in your home that puts your body in akward positions?
- Adjust the height of your baby change table
- Adjust your computer station
- Lift your phone/tablet up to eye level to stop bringing your neck forward
- Adjust the layout of your draws/cupboards so frequently used items are waist-chest height
Safe Lifting Technique
Most people who hurt or injure their backs do it from very mundane duties, such as hanging out the washing. It is important to use the same lifting techniques you would at the gym for home tasks & lifting your child. Even small, light, regular and repetitive tasks will wear down your body
- Bend your knees
- Brace your core
- Straight back
- Don’t twist
- Keep the weight close
Stretch & Strengthen exercises
Holding your baby, larger breasts & repetitive forward movements can lead to tight chest muscles and weaker (over stretched) back muscles. So exercises to reverse this are the foundations of rebuilding your posture. Try these while watching TV.
Stretch Your Chest:
- Place your hands on your lower back, lift up through your chest and pull down through your arms.
- Try placing a noodle or rolled towel under your upper back when laying on the your back and reach your arms up and over your head.
- Try kneeling on the floor, place your arms long & forward infront of you on the ground, lift your bottom into the air & push your chest to the ground
Strengthen your back:
- Try a monkey grip hold. Keep your chest high and focus on pulling back and down through your upper back. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat 10-12 times
- Try a seated row. Sit with your palms up & in front, pull your hands back to your hips while keeping your elbows close to your body & rotate your wrists as you come through. Focus on the ‘squeeze’ through your upper back and lifting chest. This can later be done with a resistance band or exercise machine.
Balancing Your Body
Balancing out your muscle strength is also crucial. We are all guilty of having a dominant side. For example, always carrying your baby on your right hip.
- Switch sides
- Carry hand back & groceries on other hand
- Use a baby carrier that keeps your baby central (front or back) to muscle balance
- Carry your baby on your baby if you have an appropriate carrier and your baby is at the correct development level (usually 6months onwards). This will adjust your centre of gravity
Using a baby carrier Ergonomically
Using a Carrier that keeps you and baby in the most optimal and ergonomic position is usually going to be better for your body than simply holding them. It will allow you to stand tall, hands free, keeps your centre of gravity close and spreads the weight evenly across your body. Here are some great features to look for in a carrier. I recommend Manduca!
- Parent facing Carrier – this will keep your centre of gravity closer which will be more supportive on your back and also support your babies spine.
- Close enough to kiss – keep your baby nice and high, not riding low on your hips
- Knee to knee support for baby – this again will keep your centre of gravity closer, keep dangly lets out of your normal walking stride and provide a great seat for your baby to sit in, supported for long rides.
- Check out T.I.C.K.S
Healing Abdominal Separation
A lot of back pain can stem from poor core. During pregnancy it is really common for your abdominal muscles to separate to accommodate your growing baby. Amazing right! This is nothing to be fearful of, but if not recognised or treated it can become worse or lead to back pain
Almost every Mum I speak with says they have sore neck and shoulders… just from being a Mum. But make sure you look after you body and seek help if pain persists.
- Visit a chiropractor for an adjustment … LOVE my Chiro
- Massage & heat packs… hello hubby?
- Remember – Cold packs for new injuries & heat for old knots
Self care of your own body is so important, so that we are able to be the best Mum possible with out the distraction of neck or back pain. You are an amazing Mum and worth a bit of TLC.
If you would like more help with improving your posture & playful ways to exercise WITH your children, contact me and let’s talk!
Keep Movin’ Mamas
Expert Pre/Postnatal Fitness Coach & Founder of Nurtured Fitness