Research, from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), has found that over four out of every ten (43%) of parents who have ever suffered from back or neck pain, found their pain increased after having children. New mothers were particularly affected, with over twice as many women (57%) suffering fresh aches and pains since becoming a parent, as men (27%).
Yet, despite this, BCA findings reveal that many people may be unaware that becoming a parent could trigger back or neck pain. Over two thirds (68%) of parents revealed they did not receive any guidance for looking after their back after having their child.
Nearly two thirds (65%) said that lifting and carrying their child was the reason for their increased pain, with the figure rising to almost three quarters (73%) for women. The strain of carrying extra bags (39%) and disturbed sleeping (36%) were also all cited as reasons parents’ experienced back or neck pain.
BCA Chiropractor, Tim Hutchful, comments: “Becoming a parent is a milestone moment that can result in a number of significant lifestyle changes, which in turn can contribute to the onset of back and neck pain. We understand new parents often may not see their own health as a priority but, it’s important they are aware of the toll that that back pain can have, and take simple steps to ensure their back and neck health doesn’t suffer.”
The BCA has a number of simple tips current and future parents can incorporate into their daily routines to ease the strain:
• Carrying correctly – Carry your baby as close as possible to your centre of gravity – across your back or front is best. A carrier/sling or papoose is a good option
• Pushchair posture – A pushchair or pram with adjustable height settings is ideal, as it can be moved to suit your own height and that of anyone else who will be pushing it. You should be able to walk upright with a straight spine and hands resting at a comfortable height
• Adjust the height: Feeding a child in a high chair can place strain on your back. Sit as close as possible in front of your child and adjust the height of the chair so that you are not leaning too high or too low
• Spread the weight: Parents of babies and children inevitably carry heavy bags! Using a rucksack style bag is best as you can spread the weight evenly across your back. Check the straps are tightened so that the load is held against your back
• Car seats: Find a car seat that it is easy for you to carry – remember the total weight you will be lifting will be the car seat and baby combined. When taking the child or child and car seat out of the car open the door as wide as possible, try and get as close to the car as possible and bend both your knees
• Feeding – If breast feeding make sure your child and your back is adequately supported – if feeding with a bottle don’t forget to keep on changing sides!
• Bed time – Make sure that when your cot is in place there is plenty of room for you to access it without needing to twist or strain. You may also want to consider buying a cot with a drop down side so you don’t have to bend too low when putting the child to sleep
For busy parents short on time, the BCA has developed a number of advice sheets on how to look after your back health indoors, outdoors and during pregnancy, as well as a three-minute video of simple exercises that can be done anywhere. This is available here
The BCA recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days, then you should seek professional help, as an undiagnosed problem could lead to longer-term problems if left untreated.
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