For every new parent, the joys of watching a child grow in the first several years of life is both extremely rewarding and awe inspiring. The changes and growth between infancy and three years of age is unlike any other time. For the parent, however, this is one of the most physically demanding times. Today I’ll point out some common ways parents end up with neck and back pain, and offer some solutions.
One of the most common back pains stems from carrying your child consistently on only one hip. An efficient way to have your child close at hand while you do chores around the house, it does have a large drawback. Because parents tend to place a child on only the hip opposite their own dominant hand, it can cause an imbalance in the hip and back muscles, leading to back pain and spasm. If this preference for the same hip continues, pelvic and spinal alignment can be affected, and a chronic situation may begin. The solution is to switch sides often. Perhaps awkward at first, this new habit can help you avoid pain.
The next set of problems involves lifting your child into awkward positions. One of the most biomechanically challenging duties involves the car seat. Lifting an infant or toddler over the side edge of a car seat and twisting the child so it faces the right direction, all without hitting your head, is quite a task. Now, let’s add some reality. Perhaps your car is overly low, like a sports car, or tall, like an SUV. Perhaps it is parked on a hill, so you are balancing the car door with one leg. Your child may even be reluctant to get back in the car seat and isn’t cooperating.
All these factors can make an awkward task even more physically challenging. The key is to recognize that this simple task can put you and your back at risk. So take a few moments to position yourself as well as possible. Whenever possible, step into the car and position yourself in front of the car seat, which minimizes the twisting of your body. To accomplish this, two-door vehicles are often better than four-door models.
Always follow specific safety guidelines matching your child’s age with regard to the positioning and location of the car seat. As soon as the child is old enough to climb into the car seat independently, encourage this activity. Make it a game. As your child grows, it is important to encourage independence in this and other positioning activities to minimize lifting and to protect your back.
Depending on your own height, lifting a child into a grocery cart can be another challenging task. In many supermarkets, special low-seat carts are available for kids. This can make a world of difference if you shop once or twice a week with your children.
Infant carriers that double as car seats are another popular mode of transport. While fine for quick in and out trips, they are heavy and awkward, too, because it is more effective to carry your child as close to the center of your body as possible.
Lastly, avoid having your child run and jump up on you while you are standing, or jump on your back when you are lying down. As a child grows, this can become a bigger and more dangerous problem. And since the child had earlier received permission to do this, the youngster won’t understand the consequences of its bigger body. Grown can lead to groan!
Remember, as a parent it is important that you stay healthy and pain free to be the best parent you can be. Suffering injuries and dealing with pain can make even the strongest person grumpy and short-tempered. Take a few minutes to lift carefully and symmetrically. Taking shortcuts and failing to use proper body mechanics often leads to unnecessary, avoidable problems.