Guest Blog by Jen Dugard
There are a few simple rules you can implement to protect your body from something you do VERY regularly when you have a baby. Get it right now and you can protect yourself as they get bigger and heavier, AND you might even find you get a good workout (not to mention a better bum!).
Pushing your baby in his or her pram may seem like a relatively simple task; however, I observe many mothers who are potentially contributing to injury by doing this simple task. If you compare this scenario to exercising using bad technique you know that, over time, other muscles will compensate, and you are more than likely to get aches and pains from the repeated movements.
Here are a few tips to help you stay injury free while you pound the pavement pushing your pram.
Rule 1: No creases in your wrists
Problem: wrist pain – I speak to many women who experience wrist pain after having a baby. Generally, mums are using their hands and arms more than they ever have done before and maintaining the same position (rocking, holding, bouncing, etc.) for extended periods of time.
Solution: no creases in your wrists. Next time you are pushing your pram just glance down at your wrists – do you see any creases? If you do you will also see your hand sitting at an angle anywhere between 45-90 degrees from your wrist. This is putting constant pressure on your wrist joint, especially when you add load (pushing up hill or a second child in a double pram). Adjust your wrist so there is a straight line running from your arm down to knuckles, you will notice that that the creases at your wrist now disappear. Keep glancing down to check for those creases and feel the tension ease from your wrist joints.
Rule 2: Keep your hips near the handle bar
Problem: lower Back Pain – a common complaint among new (and not so new) mums. It is a misconception that after you become a mum you should just have to put up with back ache; this isn’t so, but many of the postures we assume in daily tasks do contribute to these aches and pains. The head down, bum out, bending over position a lot of mothers assume when pushing a heavy pram uphill is a huge contributor to lower backache. Do this regularly whilst going hell for leather in the attempt to work hard and lose weight, and you could find yourself in a world of pain.
Solution: keep your hips close to the handle of your pram when you are pushing your baby uphill. Next time you are pushing your pram uphill I’d like you to stay standing tall, aim to keep your hips relatively close to your pram and find your glutes! Take big strides up the hill and drive through the bum to propel you up the hill. You should start to feel your glutes working when walking like this. Your back should hurt less AND you’ll be getting a much better workout.
Rule 3 – Chest up, shoulders down
Problem – upper trap/back and neck pain – a lot of tension is held in our neck, upper back and shoulders when we are tired, stressed and looking after little people who need our constant care and attention. We often walk around with our shoulders by our ears and don’t even realise it. Add to this a handle bar that’s the wrong height and you will surely exacerbate the problem.
Solution: adjust your handle bar height. Pretty much every pram these days comes with an adjustable handle so people of different heights can be comfortable. With that said, we share prams with our partners or don’t even think about adjusting handle height (I bet many are still at the height they were set at when they came out of the box). Next time you are out for a walk stand upright next to your pram, make sure your chest is up and shoulders are down, allow your hands to rest on the handle and see how you feel. If you adjusted it down a few inches would it take some pressure off your upper body and allow you to maintain that chest up, shoulders down position more comfortably? As a general rule your hands should be a little above hip height.
These may seem like pretty simple things to implement, and they are, BUT they might just change the way you are moving on a daily basis and help to relieve some of those aches and pains that don’t have to go hand-in-hand with motherhood.
Jen Dugard is a highly motivated mother of two, fitness specialist and author who thrives on showing all mums that they can put themselves first and achieve both the body and lifestyle of their dreams. Jen’s message on exercise as a mum is simple: “you must take the time to re-build from the inside out to become stronger, fitter and more confident that you have ever been”. To find out more about Jen Dugard, Body Beyond Baby visit www.jendugard.com
Ginny Lindsay is a Sydney based relationship counsellor and psychotherapist who supports individuals and couples moving from pregnancy into parenthood. With 40% of divorces happening during pregnancy or in the first 3 years of a child’s life, Ginny established From 2 to 3 to offer support early before a relationship breaks down.