Friday, 19 April 2013

Chiropractic Awareness Week: The Back Perils of Parenting

As we come to the end of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) Chiropractic Awareness Week, with this year's focus on the 'Back Perils of Parenting', here's our summary of their findings, advice and top tips...

As a parent it is all too easy to put a strain on your back when taking care of your young children, there is constant bending involved - picking up toys, picking up children and generally attending to their every need. You will also spend a lot of time carrying your children around and trying to hold on to a heavy, wriggling bundle is hard for even the most athletic among us.

All of the above show the importance of making sure you are not damaging your back, because, as all parents have probably already experienced; it makes life extra hard when you feel unwell and you need to take care of your children.

Recent research undertaken by the BCA has shown that 81% of people living in London have suffered from either back or neck pain at some point in their lives - 61% of those being parents.  

Those parents found suffering commented that their pain had prevented them from either lifting or carrying their child.

The following advice is being offered to parents by the BCA on how to maintain a healthy back whilst enjoying time with their children.

Carrying a baby or toddler
  • Carry your baby close to your centre of gravity - slings are great for this
    • check the instructions to make sure you wear the carrier correctly and that your babies weight feels evenly distributed and you don't feel any strain or pressure in one area more than others
  • If carrying your child without a sling, again keep their weight close to your body and your hip - keeping your spine straight and swap sides regularly
  • Encouraging toddlers to do as much for themselves as possible helps save your back - for example, climbing into their car seat
  • As well as needing to carry your child you also need to carry the large amount of items that are needed at all times - rucksack style bags are best as the weight can be distributed evenly over both shoulders and your back - make sure straps are tightened so the bag is held against your back (this reduces the pull on your shoulders)
Using a pushchair
  • Adjustable height settings are ideal, so that the handle can be the correct height for everyone who pushes it
    • you should be able to walk upright with a straight spine and your hands resting at a comfortable height - this helps you maintain a good posture
  • Ease of assembly and collapse is essential for your sanity as well as your back - pushing down hard with only one foot or hand with stiff or complicated mechanisms can place strain in one area, a pushchair that comes apart in sections will be lighter; lifting individual pieces rather than the whole thing in one go
Playing with your child
  • getting down to your childs level will reduce the amount of time you spend bending down
  • watch your child as they demonstrate perfectly a natural squatting posture and try to emanate this when you are picking up toys, food etc. off the floor
Choosing a cot
  • Make sure that there is plenty of room once the cot is in place so that you can move around it freely and not have to twist or strain
  • Placing your child in the cot, whilst keeping them as close to your body as possible is best for your back - if you hold them at arm's length and lift them over the high side bars you are increasing the weight by approximately x 5 - so the ideal way is to place them straight across onto the mattress - remember - you will be doing this thousands of times
  • Always find a comfortable position when feeding. Try not to take your babies weight in your arms - use extra pillows for support
  • It is common for mums and dads to get neck strain from bending down and twisting whilst feeding (it's impossible not to gaze at that adorable little face!)
  • Changing sides to feed - also with a bottle - helps to spread strain more evenly through the body
  • Feeding a child in a high chair can also place strain on your back - try to get as close as possible and the child's chair at a good height so you don't have to lean or bend too much
In the car
  • When putting your baby in the car - hold them close to you, keep your back straight and bend your knees when you have got as close as possible to the car seat
  • If carrying your baby in a chair, rest the chair on the edge of the seat, then manoeuvre it into position within the car, bending at your hips and knees and not at the waist
  • Avoid reaching out with the seat or child too early
We hope that you find this advice helpful and are able to action it into your daily lives. If you are a parent and are concerned about the health of your spine, please contact the clinic [020 85632608] for a free 15 minute consultation to see if Chiropractic could help you.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

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