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

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Protect Your Back: Vol 1 -Car Seat Tips

So after getting some feedback from fellow Mom’s out there I was asked to write a post on how to avoid back injuries and ways to make life a little easier while caring for your little one! Having a weak core combined with increased lifting and carrying is a recipe for disaster. Follow these tips to protect your back and not go to bed sore every night! I will post these in segments so today we will focus on getting the car seat in and out of the car.

The Car seat

So if you are like me and out and about all the time the infant car seat can be your best friend. Baby is sleeping? No worries, we will just bring her out in the car seat! I soon learned that this 30-pound back wrecking torture device is my worst enemy.

Common Mistakes

  • Mistake #1: Not engaging your core while lifting the car seat out of the car.
    • I only have one child so it is recommended to keep the car seat in the middle seat, which sucks for getting it in and out!
    • How do people most often hurt their back? I always think of a BLT sandwich, Bending, Lifting and Twisting It’s these motions that when done incorrectly (or all at the same time) can cause lower back pain and strains. Which coincidently is exactly what we do when we get the car seat out of the car!
    • How to fix this
      • Get as close to the object you are lifting as possible (in this case, the car seat). By putting one leg into the vehicle you can get your center of mass closer and maintain a straight back while engaging your core in order to lift the seat out of the car.
      • Do this in 2 steps. Slow down; think about what you are doing. Lift the car seat out of the base, place on the seat, then get it out of the car, take a deep breath and engage your core before lifting.
      • Don’t twist and swing the seat over your side. Remember a car seat plus baby is almost 30 pounds, if not more! You would never do a motion like this with a 30 lb. weight at the gym would you?
      • If you have a low vehicle, make sure to squat down and lift the seat with both arms as if it is a big medicine ball. This will not only save your back but also your shoulders!
  • back safety getting car seat out of car
    Get as close to the object as possible, put one leg in vehicle if you can and keep a flat back. Use your whole body rather than just your arms.
    back safety getting car seat out of car
    Keep a flat back, engage your core and stick your butt out slightly!
    back safety infant car seat
    Hold object as close to you as possible, use both hands, stand up tall, and keep your core muscles engaged!
    • Mistake #2: Carrying the car seat on one side of your body.
      • Come on, we all know this MUST be bad for us but when we are in a rush we do it anyway. Not only is this extremely hard on your spine and can cause muscular imbalances and strains, it is also very hard on your shoulder and neck as well! (My chiropractor probably cringes when he sees women walk into his office like this)
      • How to fix this
        • 1) Avoid carrying the car seat whenever possible. If you have a stroller that it can easily clip into make sure to use it!
        • 2) When you must carry the car seat (into a restaurant, short distances) try carrying it in front of you with both arms. Be sure to stand up tall and keep your core tight! I understand this may look silly and feel slightly awkward but by centering the weight along your midline you will be able to carry the seat with your whole body and core strength  (that you have diligently been working on by doing the exercises in my previous blog here) as opposed to mainly your shoulders, arms and back muscles.

 

how not to carry a car seat
This is what we all do when carrying the car seat. Try to avoid this at all costs!

Try these tips today and let me know how it feels! In my next post I will review common mistakes when lifting or playing with baby.

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