There are many expected joys of being a parent: your baby’s first smile, first words, first steps, first day at school and so on.
Many of us learn to acknowledge that these moments of heart felt pleasure and pride come after periods of sleepless nights, babies being sick on you, stepping on toys, finding lost shoes….you get the picture!
But one thing that people often don’t expect is the shear physical effort of carrying and looking after your child and the toll it can take on your body.
Yes, I’m back talking about parental back pain …. again.
As I have said before, I see parents come in every week with what I have decided to call ‘parenthood related back pain’. Often parents state the cause as a twisting and bending action, performed when trying to put on their shoes while reaching round the coffee table to stop their kid knocking over a glass! But acrobatic moments such as these are usually just the straw that breaks the parent’s back. In fact it is the persistent mini events, the daily toil and the lack of time looking after your self that has been the underlying cause.
My own tale of woe was hoovering trodden down pasta in the back seat of my car. One second I was fine the next I was in agony and unable to stand up straight. ‘Oh … the irony’, an osteopath with a bad back. We are all susceptible to it. We spend days on our knees, bending down, picking things up, lifting and carrying kids. And if we aren’t doing that we are sat at a desk that is disastrous for our posture, trying to get work done as quickly as possible, skipping meals so that we can do the online shopping before heading home.
The problem is, all parents put themselves last and ask their bodies to do unfamiliar and unexpected movements. When tired our bodies can only take so much before it lets us know, through pain, that it has had quite enough. Often they are movements that you haven’t done for 20 years or perhaps even since when you were a child. Our bodies are simply not prepared and we have long since forgotten the pleasure of these contorted movements. By the time your child comes, it’s too late to press pause while you get physically ready to take on the challenge.
Typically, I see mums who have a child between birth and 3 years old and dads with kids between the age of 2 and 4. The reason for this is because mums initially suffer the most; after all they have just carried the baby for 9 months and in pregnancy and labour have had a life changing physical experience. They often then have to breast feed and will also usually spend more time carrying the baby too.
Dads tend to suffer more a bit later. When the kids get heavier and the mum has become wise not to lift a heavy, wriggly, human all the time, it falls upon the dad to do the heavy work. By this time, the Dad’s have a nicely developed ‘Dadbod’ (Google if curious!) and are less able to manage all the lifting that their minds might believe is possible.
Over the last few years, through making these observations and experiencing it for myself, my focus has become to work closely with parents and help them not only get out of pain, but start to manage their posture and movement in a way that will prevent pain coming back.
I give you the tools you need to be able to manage your posture and get back to a less tired version of you that can fully participate in the role of parent, partner, friend and adventurer. How many of these do you feel you are currently doing the way you would like to?
I understand that busy parents often don’t have a second to think about themselves but imagine how much time you would save if you were fully fit and full of energy. The tools I give you are relatively quick to do and I work hard to find ways of fitting exercises into your daily routine. I’m the last person to ask someone to go to the gym 4 times a week. I know the chance of this is often unlikely.
So, what do I actually do then?
Well, I find out where your body is holding you back and how it is causing you pain. I treat the areas so that they are ready for specific movements that will get your body moving in the most efficient way. You will get a set of ‘exercises’ that will maintain and help you work towards ease of movement. Also along the way we will discuss the things that you find most difficult about daily and weekly routines and brainstorm ways of making these easier. Small tips, cheats and life hacks that can help you take the pressure off.
If you can recognize any of what I have described or have ‘parenthood related back pain’, it’s time to act. Save your self the next several years discomfort thinking that soon it will all get easier.
Book a Pain free Posture for Parents assessment and find out how we can work together, getting you on track to feel and move better than ever before. Its time to reclaim your body and live life the way you thought you might.
Pain free Posture for Parents
Assessment is £100 for 90mins.
Same as Anatomy in Motion
Treatment programmes are adapted for each person but are typically for 3, 6 and 9 months duration.