This Mother’s Day, show your mom how to avoid back pain. Letting them know how to protect their backs while taking care of children may be the best gift of all.
Here are four strategies that can prevent back pain, injury and strain when performing daily tasks for children.
Lunge Strategy: Use when you need to get down to ground/floor level.
- Take a large step backward with one leg, allowing the front knee to bend to 90 degrees, as the back knee lowers to the floor. This position allows you to be eye level to the child when speaking to them, zipping a jacket, or helping to tie their shoes.
- The lunge can also be used to pick the child up from the floor, by raising them onto your front thigh, pulling them toward your waist, then rise to standing. This will prevent back pain.
- When you need to sit on the floor to change a diaper or play with the kids, start by lunging down on one knee, then kneeling, then side sitting. This is better than bending over to reach your hands to the floor to lower yourself down or squatting down to the floor.
- When putting clothes away in lower dresser drawers or kneeling beside the bathtub, the lunge helps you bend from the hips and knees, keeping the legs strong, rather than straining the back.
Golfer’s Lift Strategy: Use to pickup up lightweight objects from the floor when there is furniture nearby to hold onto.
- This lift simulates how a golfer holds onto a club and bends to get the ball out of the hole while lifting one back leg. This can be used to pick up a fork that fell from a high chair, a shirt laying on the floor next to the bed, or a toy that is under the coffee table.
- The object may be lightweight so we don’t think about bending with our legs, but pivoting from the hip and using the nearby furniture for support can reduce a lot of strain on the back.
Forward Lean/Hip Hinge Strategy: Use when lifting something at waist height.
- One leg is lifted backwards as you brace the opposite front leg against something stationary, hinging forward from the front hip rather than bracing yourself with your arm.
- This is the perfect choice for leaning into the car while getting a child into or out of the car seat, pulling the stroller out of the trunk of the car, or leaning against a crib to tuck in the sheet.
Squat Strategy: Use when you need to reach/lift something at the level of your knees.
- Squat as though you are about to sit down, keeping your knees in line with your ankles, sending your hips backward and your trunk forward, weight through the heels.
- This is helpful when lifting a child out of the stroller, bending to get a diaper from under the changing table, or when cleaning a spill on the coffee table.
- And final, don’t forget about using your abs. Drawing in the abdominal muscles prior to any bending or lifting helps to activate the “internal” back brace, and prevent strain regardless of what you are doing.