Whether you’re picking up your children or picking up after them, there are many routine parenting duties that can stress various parts of your backbone. This repeated stress can affect spine-supporting muscles, discs, joints, and nerves and contribute to chronic discomfort. Realistically, you’re not going to be able to avoid all instances of straining your spine while parenting. However, there are some things you can do protect your back and reduce your odds of being sidelined by disruptive pain resulting from an injury that could require advanced medical treatment, including alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles parents can keep their spines healthy by using the following guidelines when caring for children.
Being a parent to young children usually involves bending to pick them up as well as frequently bending over a changing table or crib. Not paying attention to your lifting technique could leave you with back spasms and similar discomfort from strained muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Protect your back by:
• Bending at your knees and not your waist
• Not twisting or turning your body as you bend
• Avoiding excessive forward extensions as much as possible
The joy of sitting in a sandbox with your child or playing a game on the floor together may quickly disappear if you experience unexpected aches and pains. It’s fine to sit on your knees or with your legs crossed while spending quality time with your children at their level. Just remember to make an effort to keep your head and neck above your shoulders so you’re not throwing off your spine’s alignment.
Many parents have a natural inclination to carry a child in a way that puts most of the child’s weight on one side of the body or hip. If you habitually do this, you may end up altering your posture enough to affect your spine. Protect your back while carrying your child by:
• Holding your child against your chest
• Supporting his or her body with both hands
• Using a supportive baby carrier that evenly distributes your child’s weight
With both bottle and breastfeeding, you’ll likely end up bending forward to some extent during routine feedings. Even the act of standing up to feed and bending your neck to look down at your child could place added strain on your neck and upper back. Instead, sit in a supportive chair and try to avoid leaning forward as much as possible. A nursing pillow can provide extra support.
Getting up in the middle of the night is pretty much routine for parents of very young children, especially newborns. You can’t control when your baby demands attention, but you can make the most of the time you do get to sleep. A lack of sufficient sleep reduces the time your spine has to naturally heal itself while also contributing to increased anxiety and stress, which also isn’t good for your back. Give your spine sufficient time to rejuvenate itself by:
• Eliminating or minimizing distractions in the bedroom (e.g., television, various handheld devices)
• Avoiding caffeinated beverages in the later part of the day
• Making sure you have a comfortable and supportive mattress
Finally, you can protect your back while parenting by not putting off a trip to your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon if you have new or worsening spine-related pain. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the more likely you’ll respond well to non-surgical treatments involving medication, therapeutic exercises, and physical therapy.
If you need expert advice on how to protect your back while caring for your children, reach out to the spine health experts at The Spine Institute. Our physicians are industry-leading authorities on how to keep your back healthy, including safe practices to use at home with the kids. Call one of our friendly representatives at 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.