Are your Kids giving you Backpain?
In a typical day, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles looking after young children are required to push, pull, bend & lift…over & over & over again. What’s more, over the first two years of your child’s life, that weight you are lifting, pushing & pulling can increase from a 3kg newborn to an active 15kg toddler. So it’s no wonder that looking after young children can significantly increase your risk of neck & back injury. To minimise this risk, it is not only important to watch how you’re lifting, but also to put a bit of planning into your environment to make tasks easier.
Some tips to help you avoid injury are:
Use good lifting techniques
- Always face your child/the object you are lifting
- Bend your knees or half kneel to keep your back straight
- Start with your child close to your body
- Keep abdominal muscles braced (Learn how to from your physio)
- Use both arms to lift
- Teach your toddler to face you & hold on rather then have them leaning away from you
Environment and Equipment Changes
- Check the height of your change table
- Look at access to the cot
- Use a washing basket stand
- Use stools to sit lower to the ground
Use good carrying techniques
- Avoid carrying your child on one hip for prolonged periods – instead try to keep them centred on your body.
- Use both arms to support your child
Help build independence for your toddler
- Use pull out steps or risers for the toilet, sink & changing table to reduce the number of times you bend & lift to help them
- This will mean your child can pick them up themselves & also help with tidying up!
Take care with feeding
- Sit with a rolled up towel/rolled cushion in the small of your back for lumbar support
- Build up pillows to support your child to reduce the amount you have to lean forward to reach them
- Try to keep shoulders relaxed & chin tucked in
A common response to these suggestions from people who do spend their time looking after young children is “I just don’t have the time”. Many of you may feel that you just can’t think about your posture or lifting technique when dealing with sleeping babies, screaming toddlers & your own fatigue. But can you really afford not to? Low back injuries can take up to six weeks to recover completely from (longer if you continue to flare it up with aggravating activities.)
If you get back pain see your Physio early, better consult your Physio to help you prevent back pain.
The more you do consider your back & neck in everyday life, the more natural it will become in situations where you really don’t have the time. So to get the most out of your day & to enjoy the time you have with your children, look after your back & neck!