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3 Tips for How to Lift Your Child Without Back Pain

backpain exerciseprogramming physicaltherapy strengthtraining womenshealth Sep 02, 2020

If you ask most parents they’ll say their kids changed their lives.  For better or for worse being a parent is a physical role. Carrying, lifting and holding babies and kids is a part of the job, but low back pain or soreness shouldn’t be. As we all know, those precious newborns seem to grow into a toddler in the blink of an eye, which also means they weigh more like 20 to 30 pounds compared to their 7 to 8 pounds at birth.  Parents this article is for you, filled with 3 practical tips for safe, efficient and symptom free lifting and carrying for the real world superhero parent that you are! 

3 Tips for Lifting Pain Free

  1. Lift Mindfully
  2. The power of breathe and emphasizing of core awareness
  3. Hip hinge

  • 1. Lift Mindfully

Get as close as you can to the object (kid) you are lifting.The further away you hold the baby out of the crib/laundry/car seat etc. the greater the force is placed on your lumbar spine which may lead to compromised position and inefficient lifting.

  • Remove the tray from the high chair before lifting your child up and out of the chair.
  • Try to have your child get as close to the side of the crib as possible before lifting them out, if possible adjust the height of the crib or use a step to eliminate the awkward over extending reach into the crib. Your back will thank you later. 

When you’re picking up your child (from the ground, car seat, bassinet) be sure to get down on their level before picking them up. Bend those knees and maintain a neutral (straight) spine. Maintaining a neutral spine rather than rounding or hunching over when lifting any object of any size promotes safe spine position with body mechanics.

  1. The Power of Breathe and Emphasizing of Core Awareness

Throughout our days we are on the move from cooking, playing with the kids, housework, yardwork, computer work and we do a lot of things on autopilot without much thought to it.  Especially with lifting we want to use our breathing to optimize our capacity to lift.  Our breath, when done correctly can also promote core muscle function and awareness which can promote safe lifting and reduce symptoms of low back pain. Below is our ‘Lifting 101 Checklist’ and video on bodyweight squats with core and pelvic floor awareness you can go through to bring more awareness to your core and breathing while you lift. 

LIFTING 101 Checklist

  • Get up close and personal with the object.
  • Take an inhale, let out a tiny bit of air off the inhale.
  • Brace core (TA brace) Match your breath with the task or exercise
  • Maintain a neutral spine, hip hinge down to object
  • Upon return to standing, exhale and bring more awareness to contracting the transverse abdominis (TA) and pelvic floor muscles (PFM) for increased core stabilization on ascent. Maintain the object close to the body with lift.

Bodyweight Squat with Pelvic Floor & Core Awareness

  1. Hip hinge

Again, a neutral spine is important and the hip hinge movement promotes using your hips for the movement rather than bending from your lumbar spine and promotes strong and safe lifting. An example of this to try is a Dowel Hip Hinge to learn the movement pattern. I would recommend 2 sets of 15 repetitions, emphasizing maintaining your neutral spine position and engaging your deep core muscles throughout. I recommend starting with bodyweight first to see how your body responds before adding weights.

BONUS: Hold Off the Hip Pop

Another helpful tip when it comes to carrying and holding your kids is to hold off the hip pop when you’re holding your child.  By avoiding popping your hip out to the side as well as leaning your trunk backwards you are setting yourself up for success and promoting back health. Both of those postures are commonly seen in  postpartum mothers. If you do find yourself holding your child on your hip, alternate to vary the load to your hips and low back. We also recommend encouraging your child when they are old enough to actively hold onto you rather than hanging on your body.  This will encourage functional strength for your child and ease the load on you.  Remember, you shouldn’t feel like you need to avoid holding your little ones or only tolerate holding them for a few minutes.  With these tips you can feel strong, capable and confident to hold your child longer without the low back ache afterwards.

Practice. Practice. Practice. It may seem silly or redundant to practice these movements but the core muscle motor plan and muscle recruitment you are teaching your brain to do with these movements will allow for easier carryover to heavier objects. Your baby is going to grow like a weed and we want you to be prepared and feeling confident and strong to carry on in parenthood pain free.

Are you looking for more information about running and eliminating leaking? Download our Leakproof Running Guide for the Postpartum Woman HERE! This free pdf is filled with a step by step guide to get you back on the road to symptom free running with strength and confidence! We’re in your corner to provide encouragement and help you learn more about how your body can recover, heal and strengthen to build movement confidence in your life as an active mother.

Most people don’t know how to stay healthy and fit without getting hurt. At Inside Out Strength and Performance we provide a clear plan to get you in the best shape of your life, without getting injured, so that you can be active and confident that you’ll feel your best for years to come.

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