Tighten Your Abs and Lift with Your Legs

Many of the misfortunes that motherhood brings about are preventable or easily fixable. Sleep deprivation may be the trickiest, as unless you are either blessed by the gods with a good sleeper or sleep train, there is no way you can easily catch up on your sleep (sleep when the baby sleeps is total nonsense). Things like weight gain and the impact on your social life can be sorted out without breaking a sweat. Reintroduce physical exercise into your routine as soon as you are cleared by your doctor (this may make you sweat a bit), and watch your diet as much as possible; as for the dormant socialite within you, those weekly date nights are a must, and do not forget family and friends, make sure you reconnect with the dear ones at least once a month. Then you have the physical “self-abuse”: mother’s thumb, tweaked back, dislocated vertebrae, sciatica, and the list can go on and on. My back has been a pain for quite a few weeks now; I’ve got a couple of ribs poking through my chest; my shoulders are so tense that they are practically glued to my ears. I’ve gotten a few massages, different styles, different pressures; nothing really helped for longer than 60 minutes post-massage. Today I sucked it up and went and saw the osteopath. Why is it a challenge to go and get myself fixed you ask? Because it’s a friggin’ expensive treatment and I know that I’ll be breaking myself again in no time.

You know what I was asked while pieces of me were being put back in place? Whether I was in a car crash. Or whether I fell on my head. *See me looking quizzically up at her.”

The hours killed in traffic, the money spent at the clinic, the discord at work because of my PTO, my pain and discomfort – all easily avertable. The one thing required is to mind my posture throughout the day AND NIGHT, especially while handling Copiloo. I looked it up online. It was disturbing to realize that I am contorting my body in all the wrong ways while doing the most basic tasks. (As a side note, I also learned that we are not using the correct posture while pooping… check it out. It’s on my Xmas wish list.)

I carry Copiloo a lot (he is currently at the 18lb mark), which means I pick him up and put him down a lot of times. I use horrible form when doing that. I also spend at times close to an hour in the glider nursing and rocking him to sleep. I am pretty sure I am badly hunched in that cosy glider. I think what has the most impact on my back is when I move him from one side of the bed to the other while laying down, during the night. I fear this change is not something I will readily implement.

Below are a few tips I have come across and think would make a huge difference in reducing my current discomfort and preventing future injuries.

  • Do not carry the child on your hip as it impacts your back muscles (if possible use a front baby carrier).
  • When picking the child from the floor or the crib, bend at your knees NOT AT YOUR WAIST and lower into a squat (it is recommended that you lower the crib side, rather than picking up the child over the railing). Once the child is in your arms, tighten your abs and lift with your legs.
  • Always try to pull the child closer to you before lifting him up.
  • When breastfeeding, try to bring the child to your breast, rather than bending over him (use boppy pillows even when the child is older if necessary). A hard, upright chair is better than a soft couch/glider.
  • When placing the child in the car seat, kneel on the back seat, rather than doing it while standing.
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes a day for stretching and some light exercise. The area of focus should be the abs – to restore the muscles and then use your core for all the heavy kid-lifting, and the hamstrings and hips – most of the lower back pain emerges from tightness in the hamstrings.
  • Become mindful of your posture throughout the day and make small corrections when you catch yourself twisting your body in unnatural ways.

Most of these are nicely illustrated in this video thanks to a very cooperative little bug.

Pain makes us unproductive and unhappy. Dealing with a grump is no fun, so why do it to your loved ones? Take care of yourself – if you’re happy, everyone is happy, right?

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