Why New Parents End Up with Repetitive Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Having a child is the most wonderful and disruptive event in one’s life. There are so many new experiences and emotions that can overwhelm new parents for good and bad. But while parents prepare for everything they can think of for the child, they rarely think of themselves until problems such as aches and pains become apparent (pun-intended). Caring for a child increases repetitive activities that might not have been performed often before and could cause injury. These repetitive activities can include:
Activities performed on the ground or waist level (changing diapers)
Awkward static positions (feeding)
Often new parents quickly accumulate repetitive injuries from these new activities. The most common areas injured will be the lower back, neck and wrists. Much of this is attributed to lifting and static positioning while holding and feeding.
So what can new parents do to prevent these types of injuries?
The first line of defense is positioning. Some tips to better position yourself while feeding and holding your child include:
Remember that pillows are your friends! Use them to prop your elbows up so your wrists can be in neutral positions.
Use U-shaped baby pillows to support your child instead of arm support pillows.
Use a pillow in the small of your back to maintain its curve.
Use a smaller U-shaped neck pillow, especially when you are tired and need to rest your neck.
The next line of defense is doing mini-exercises that combat poor postures. Despite how much you try, it is inevitable that you will slump forward, look down too much, and position your arms wrong. To combat this you can perform exercises that stretch your limbs and activate the opposite muscle groups to balance your body out. Try the following:
Chin Tucks. With your head in a neutral position, tuck your chin back. Imagine your head is on a straight line and you are trying to slide it straight back. Do not bring your chin down to your chest.
Shoulder retractions. Sit tall with good posture. Now squeeze your lower shoulder blades together like you are trying to hold something behind your back.
Back Bends. Stand tall, place your hands on the back of your hips, and bend backward arching your back.
Forearm Stretches. Hold your arm straight out in front of you. Hold your hand downward to stretch the top of your arm and bend your arm backward to stretch the top.
How often you should do these exercises will depend on the number of offending tasks you have performed, but a good place to start is 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise, 3-4 times per day.
Give these tips a try to relieve the aches and pains of parenting so you can enjoy all the wonderful parts of raising a little one.