Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Low-Back Pain: What Every New Mom Needs to Know

Given all the changes a woman's body goes through during pregnancy and labor, you'd think our reward would be going back to our normal selves when it's all said and done. But no such luck! I started having pain in my lower back during my second trimester, and the discomfort has still been nagging ever since my daughter was born over ten moths ago. But like many busy moms, I brushed the annoyance aside while I dealt with the "more important" aspects of every day life as a new mom.

The problem is that after having a baby, we are thrown into an endless array of parent-related activities that strain the back's muscles, joints and ligaments: bending over to pick up your baby from the floor, putting her down in the crib (especially once it's on the lower settings), holding him on your hip for extended periods, carrying her in the carseat that already weighs 15 pounds on its own, lifting your 25 pound stroller and hoisting it into the car... the list goes on and on, not to mention that you're often distracted and not super-focused on your own movements.

This leads me to last Saturday. I work out everyday and was just finishing off my second week of P90X3 when I woke up with a horribly stiff and aching lower back. Four days of rest and one doctor's visit later, it's only now starting to improve. As a busy and active mom, staying off my feet for days at a time is really hard, but I did have time to do some research on preventing back injuries! Here are a few of the tips I found online:

  1. We've all heard this a thousand times, but it's so so important! Bend from the knees--not the back--when lifting the baby (or anything, for that matter!)
  2. When holding your child for extended periods, avoid holding her on your hip. Instead, hold her in front of you, with her legs wrapped around your waist.
  3. Focus on building strong abdominal muscles because they will support your lower back.
  4. Don't hunch over when feeding your baby. An inexpensive feeding pillow will help a lot. 
  5. Don't skip your workout's warm-up and cool down. For P90X3 specifically, doing the "cold start" before each workout can help dramatically.
  6. Modify, modify, modify. Any exercise where we stand and lift weights overhead can be extremely hard on the lower back, and when we start to get tired, our form slips and we tend to lean back in order to get those last few reps up. You're better off switching to a lower weight, or no weight at all until you're body get stronger. 
By taking the time to properly care for your body, you're ensuring that you'll stay strong, healthy and able to care for your family. Do you have any good tips for protecting the lower back? Comment below, I'd love to hear them!

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