Protect Your Back – Vol 3. Posture and Positioning

Okay, for my last blog post in the protect your back series, I wanted to focus on preventative care, and the importance changing habits to prevent pain and future problems!

‘Posture’

is a big word we hear a lot but never think much about. How do you stand? sit? walk? What is your posture like? Staying in the same position for long periods of time (such as sitting all day at work) can put added strain and stress on your spine and cause big problems down the line!

bad posture (click image for source)
Some common postures that are problematic to new mothers include
– Breastfeeding (hunched over, looking down)
– Cradling the baby (standing, forward head, rounded shoulders)
– Holding the baby (swayed back, hip bones forward, forward head)

Some Tips To Try
– Use a nursing pillow, this personally never worked for me, but it does for some people!
– Recline back while feeding to relax your shoulders.
– Prop your elbow up on a pillow or armrest for support while holding the baby.
– Be aware of your posture, set visual cues around the house, for example everytime you walk by a mirror you pull your shoulders back.
– While standing with the baby keep moving, static standing is worse than walking around.
– Get in your stretches daily!

How can this be fixed?!

Seek our a professional to assist with correcting your posture and teaching you ways to work on this at home. Bad posture is a bad habit and can take a lot of work, concentration, and time to correct.

I highly recommend Chiropractic care, check out these great resources from Santa Barbara Family Chiropractic. If you are in the Santa Barbara area Dr. Nick is excellent and I highly recommend him! He helped me greatly throughout my pregnancy and is consistently working to expand his knowledge to help others. He offers wellness chiropractic, pain relief, chiropractic for kids, nutritional counselling, and prenatal chiropractic. Contact them today to set up a consultation!

The following was used with permission from SBFC!

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SPINE BY REPLACING BAD HABITS WITH GOOD!

Replacing bad habits is an important step in holding your healthier chiropractic adjustment patterns longer = better results faster.

Action Step #1: Have a co-worker/friend/family member take 2-4 pics of you at your work/hobby station in any position you are in for more than 2 hours /day (one picture from side and one from behind – per position)

Action Step #2: Email pictures to support@sb-fc.com so that Dr. Nick will make notes and review with you!

Action Step #3: Watch the following videos.

HOW TO SIT/DRIVE:

https://yourhealthbuddy.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/you-can-drive-4000-miles-without-back-pain/

HOW TO SLEEP

https://sbfamilychiro.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/restful-sleep-isnt-a-myth-just-do-it-right/

HOW TO LIFT SAFELY

https://sbfamilychiro.wordpress.com/tag/good-posture/

Action Step #4: Practice! Begin replacing unsafe movement/postures with good movement/postures. Remember this takes time and awareness is the first step!

Health = Freedom
Nicholas Araza DC CCWP CFL1; Santa Barbara Family Chiropractic; 805-682-4620 / www.santabarbarafamilychiropractic.com

 

In fitness & good health,

Natasha

Mommy Thumb

DeQuervain’s Tendinitis (Mommy Thumb)

mommy thumb kinesiotaping
Many of my postpartum mama’s have a difficult time working out after pregnancy due to pain in their wrists! Some people have lingering carpal tunnel symptoms due to swelling during pregnancy while others develop DeQuervain’s Tendonitis. What is this? It is a “painful inflammation of tendons in the thumb that extend to the wrist…The result is pain at the base of the thumb and extending into the lower arm”(WebMD).

What Causes This?

Residual swelling from pregnancy, overuse, direct injury, repetitive grasping (such as lifting up your baby) can all cause pain and inflammation in the tendons. It affects women more than men 80% of the time.

Symptoms

Pain along the back of the thumb and into the forearm.
Swelling or pain at the wrist
Difficulty picking up or grasping items
Pain when moving thumb
mommy thumb

How Can this be Helped?

– A wrist splint can be worn in order to immobilize the affected area and allow the tendon to heal.
– A splint should only be worn in severe cases as 4-6 weeks of immobilization will result in weakness and need for rehabilitation afterwards.
– Ice can be applied for swelling and pain relief
– Kinesiotape can be applied to increase blood flow, promote healing, and offload the tension on the tendon. See my video below on how to apply the tape! Be sure to check out my previous Kinesiotaping video here before you begin for additional information.

Instructions
– Cut a piece of Kinesiotape (you can buy some here) approximately 6” long in half and round off the edges, make a hole in one end.
– Cut a shorter piece (3” long) and round off the edges, cut a slit in one half to make two tails.
– With no tension apply end with hole to the nailbed of the thumb.
– With wrist abducted (UP from table) apply other end to forearm.
– Bring wrist into a neutral position, relax the thumb and press down the rest of the tape.
– Take your second piece and apply the fat side to the inside of your wrist
– With 50% tension pull each tail around your wrist to the other side, being sure to not apply tension to the end of the tape.
– Take a piece of paper and rub it along all of the tape to activate the adhesive.
– Word of advice – much better if you shave your arm first!

Mid Month Check-in

women with baby in bathing suit 5 months postpartum
Feeling more comfortable in a bathing suit!

Well, it’s hard to believe but we are already through the first half of the month! I must admit I was a little ambitious taking on a personal challenge this month…I  forgot that not only was I was returning to work but my parents are also in town visiting.

Also, my swolemate (for a definition on what a swolemate is click here) was away on vacation! On a side note, be sure to check out her blog, she’s one of the greatest women I know!

All of these combined have definitely affected my motivation to stick to my workout and eating plan.

Although it was tough, I am proud to say that I have not missed a workout all month! I have been able to get in at least a 30 minute walk on my rest days and have been packing my lunch everyday for work to ensure that I am eating enough and eating healthy. Here is a breakdown of what a typical day looks like in terms of nutrition. My goals are 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein. Image courtesy of myfitnesspal app, which I am using to track my nutrition, along with my fitbit as a step counter.

 

myfitnesspal calorie breakdown

Things I am proud of

– Weightlifting 4x/week and feeling stronger every workout
– Setting 3 Personal Records at Crossfit! (90 lb clean and jerk, 50 consecutive double unders, and 50 consecutive wall balls)
– Walking on all my rest days
– Taking advantage of beautiful Santa Barbara weather (beach days, pool days, and walks downtown)
– Spending quality time with my family and being active together!
– Being 2 pounds away from my target weight.
– Working. I haven’t worked with elderly patients in well over 6 months and it has brought me great pleasure working at the nursing home this past week. They make me feel so appreciated, it’s wonderful. Reminds me of why I went into the profession where I can help others.

Hiking in Santa Barbara
Our hike in Santa Barbara last weekend!
Man with tula babywearing
My husband with the baby on our hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals for the rest of the month

– Increase my protein intake , I noticed after reviewing my food logs that I could definitely use some more protein in my diet.
– Prepare my lunches ahead of time, even when I am home. Since those seem to be the days I forget to eat.
– Start running
– Do pilates 1x/week and work on rehabilitating my shoulder by doing home exercises (something that I consistently neglect until it gets so painful I can’t do anything)

That’s it! Will check in again at the end of the month!

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

Protect Your Back: Vol. 2 – Lifting Baby

So excited to be writing my second post in the ‘protect your back after baby’ series! This will focus on common mistakes we all make when picking up the baby. Here are some of the errors easily done without thinking. Repetitive strain like this will eventually destroy your back.

Be sure to read to the end for the exercises of the week!

Mistake #1: Bending over at the waist to pick up baby off the floor.

I’m not sure how many times I hear myself repeating in my head “bend your knees!” It is all too easy to simply bend over to pick up your little one instead of squatting down properly to protect your back. When they are little and weigh less than 10 pounds it may not seem like it’s a problem but repetitive strain + increased weight of child = sore back for Mom and setbacks for your weight loss and health goals!

improper bending to pick up baby back pain proper squat to pick up baby

 

How to fix this: SQUAT, SQUAT, SQUAT!

Some key aspects of a good squat include

  • Upright torso
  • Knees over toes (without passing them)
  • Feet at least shoulder width apart
  • Weight on heels
  • Hips below parallel (at the bottom of the squat)
  • Core tight!

There are a few different ways to squat. I personally really like doing a plié squat, but this depends on your own flexibility and strength. For a plié (or sumo) squat I keep my legs slightly wider than my hips with my feet turned out  to get down low to the ground. With this technique I can easily scoop the baby off the ground and stand up using the strength of my legs as opposed to my back. Some things to remember: Engage your core before picking up your baby! Pulling your bellybutton to your spine, keeping a neutral back, and engaging that transverse abdominis will help support your lower back as you lift. See my previous posts for info on engaging your core! This also applies to putting your baby down on the ground, just in reverse!

plie squat sumo squat to pick up baby

Mistake #2: Holding the baby too far from your body

Lifting the baby out of the crib is ergonomically never an easy task. The crib is usually an awkward height for parents but necessary to keep the baby safe! It is common for parents to want to lift the baby with just their arms and end up holding them far from their body putting strain on the lower back. Remember the basic principles of proper lifting, Hold load close, use large muscle groups, create balance by holding load at midline. P.S. this is a terrible picture because I couldn’t figure out how to demonstrate improper form, so it just looks like some awkward ballet move.

improper way to pick baby up out of crib

How to fix this: Stand as close to the crib as possible & keep your core strong. 

I like to think of this as a version of a straight legged deadlift, where the focus is hinging at the waist as opposed to bending over. If you are not sure what that is check it out here! Since you can’t squat down or bend over the crib in a good position the best solution is to slow down, remember to engage your core, stand as close to the crib as possible and keep soft knees so you can slightly extend your legs as your lift the baby up. If you can stand your baby up and move them close to you before lifting that is even better! Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, NO TWISTING & LIFTING at the same time.

Mistake #3: Carrying the baby on your hip

Sure, this is fine for short periods of time…much less tiring than carrying them in your arms! But as with any other movements prolonged use of this will cause repetitive strain on your joints, back, and eventually muscular imbalances and back or hip pain.

carrying baby on hip back pain

How to fix this: Use a baby carrier whenever possible!

Sometimes babies just like to be carried around! Mine definitely does. I personally LOVE my Tula baby carrier. Similar to other soft structured carriers it distributes the weight across your hips and shoulders so you can carry your child longer and more comfortably. This is a must for shopping trips, while cooking dinner, and anytime you need your hands free! It’s also great for bonding and seems to calm the baby and put them to sleep, and can be used up to toddler age!

tula ergonomic baby carrier
Image source: Tula website, click on picture for link

Definitely try a variety of carriers on and see what feels most comfortable for you and your body. It is also important to consult the manufacturer for directions on how to get a proper fit. See below on some tips to get a proper fit with the Tula. Although a ring sling and other wrap type carriers can be great I feel that they are easily worn improperly causing increased back and shoulder strain.

Mistake #4: Holding the baby while trying to get up off the ground.

I’m not really sure why but it seems that everyone (including myself) tries to do this and eventually ends up with a hurt knee, back, or throwing themselves so off balance that they nearly drop the baby. So simply put, don’t try to get up off the ground in some awkward Russian get-up type maneuver (if you have ever Crossfitted you will know what I am talking about). Instead, slow down, put the baby on the ground, get on your feet, squat down and pick them up in a safe and functional position! Much safer for Mom and baby!

Daily Exercises

In order to make this easier be sure to be doing squats as part of your daily workout routine! Even 10 squats a day can really help build your strength, especially after baby! Add in a few hip and back stretches and you are golden. Try these new techniques and let me know what you think by commenting below, also don’t hesitate to send me an email if you have any other questions.

In fitness and good health,

Natasha

Click exercises below to view and see directions from http://workoutlabs.com

Bodyweight_Squat1Pile_Sumo_Dumbbell_SquatKnee-to-chest_Lower_Back_Stretch

Guest Blog Post

I just want to say a quick thank you to Jessica at http://fitmama4life.com for featuring my blog post on Diastasis Recti today! So great to meet other women and Mom’s out there who can be supportive and appreciative of each other’s work! Also, really glad we can get this info out there and help other pregnant and postpartum mamas all over. It helps that she was such a pleasure to work with as well 🙂

Make sure to check out her blog and IG page (@_fitmama4life) .

Xo

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