The link between back pain and pregnancy is well documented but, unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Parental responsibilities and susceptibility to back pain go hand in hand.
I am the proud father of two young kids and couldn’t be happier about the whole experience thus far. Except, that is, from the risk of back pain that seems to inevitably accompany the parental role.
The first time I hurt my back as a dad was whilst hoovering up bits of pasta from the bottom of my car. An image I’m sure other parents can at some point identify with. Suddenly I couldn’t play with the kids, help with house chores and work was absolute agony.
As an osteopath there isn’t a week goes by when I don’t have a parent of young children come into the clinic with back pain. The onset of this pain is almost always from a combination of carrying a child, putting the kids in the car and transporting the children’s paraphernalia. These events along with associated factors such as lack of sleep, putting on weight, not exercising enough and mounting work stress all contribute to an injury waiting to happen.
Parenthood involves a habitual change in the way in which we use our bodies, and our backs take the brunt. Our core muscles tend to weaken and this further puts stress on the spine, altering our posture to a state that invites pain. Sooner or later our back ‘blows out’ and needs some desperate care and attention.
Addressing postural fatigue is better done sooner rather than later. The best way to address back pain is before it happens. So, here are my general top tips for preventing parental back pain.
1) Try and keep fit.
Easier said than done…I know! Cycling or running to work is a great option, and often quicker than other forms of transport in the city. Or try and take it in turns with your partner to go to the gym or exercise class. Exercise keeps you fit but also releases natural endorphins that will help you feel good, modulate your appetite and relieve stress.
2) Resist temptation!
Try not to snack on the kids’ food: snacking in between meals is an great way to put on the pounds. Those sudden sugar spikes throughout the day will also play havoc with your blood glucose levels and give you periods of the day when you feel unnecessarily tired and leave you vulnerable to a moment of postural stupidity.
3) Lastly, DO NOT bend over all the time.
It is really important to look after your spinal health. Inevitably you will be using your back more than ever before which is why looking after your spine is so crucial. Recommendations like not changing babies nappies on the floor, or bending your legs to pick things up are essential. Have a think through your day and consider ways you could save the strain on your back quite simply. Also try and see what your kids can do fro themselves, the sooner they can climb up into their own car seat the better!
If you would like to work more preventatively to safeguard your posture book an appointment for a postural health assessment, with follow up treatment and simple exercises that reduce the chance of an emergency appointment