A pain in the back
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Moms are prone to back injuries
Taking care of children can be a real pain in the back, especially for women. You bend over to put them into car seats, lift them dozens of times a day and push a stroller hunched over because the handles are too short for you. The list goes on.
New mothers are even more prone to muscle injuries because of the higher levels of two hormones in their bodies, relaxin and oxytocin, says Dr. James J. Nabzdyk with the Montrose Chiro-practic Center in Chicago. These hormones, sec-reted in the latter part of pregnancy, help prepare the mother's cervix for delivery. After delivery, hormone levels can stay high for a couple of months, loosening joints and ligaments and predisposing women to injury.
What's a mom to do? "Pay attention to how you bend, how you lift," says Nabzdyk. "I know this is easier said than done when it's 2 in the morning."
Most back problems are brought on by poor posture and lifting things the wrong way, says Nabzdyk. A common "wrong" is the way most of us lift a child out of a car seat. We bend over, lifting the child with our back hunched, holding the child at arm's length. Nabzdyk's advice is to sit in the car next to the child seat and rotate your entire body so it is toward the car seat before lifting the child.
Other tips include: • When lifting children, bring them close to you and your center of gravity, and lift them with your knees bent and back straight.
• Eat right during pregnancy. Magnesium and calcium are important for ligaments and joints.
• If your back hurts, try a warm bath or cold compress. Stay away from dry heat, such as heating pads. It may result in more stiffness.
• When feeding a child in a high chair, pushing a stroller or changing a diaper, make sure you are not hunched over. If possible, buy strollers and changing tables that adjust for differing heights.
• When reading to your children at night, avoid reading in bed with your neck bent. Instead, sit in a supportive chair and hold the book so you are not bending your neck.
• Do some exercises to stretch your back before and after working with children. Lay on your back and bring knees to your chest or sit cross-legged and stretch, bringing your chin toward the floor.
-- Merry Mayer