From the day you are conceived the woman whose body you inhabit goes through so many changes. Once you are born these changes don’t stop! The physicality of being a mum means that a woman’s body needs to adapt on every level.
There’s the obvious - neck and back pain which mum’s shouldn’t just put up with. Recent studies suggest that between 64 per cent and 90 per cent of mothers experience back pain, generally related to the load (child) they lift regularly.
The way mums hold their kids, twisting, one arm balances, hunching, hip thrusts and balances, multitasking often combined with lack of time for exercise and self care make them prime subjects for muscular pain. We have helped a lot of mothers over the years.
Helping mothers to understand the changes that occur once they start lifting a growing child is the cornerstone of how we help. Knowledge and awareness is what helps any treatment we provide stick.
The first thing we look at with new mothers is the rib cage, not surprisingly mothers often demonstrate a shift or tilt to one side, it will often also have a twist due to the hip carry - the ribs need to shift and twist to accommodate the new position.
The longer this pattern is repeated and the longer it is held, the more likely we create a holding pattern in our bodies and this is what will eventually cause pain. Add to this the hunching forward from breastfeeding, playing or cleaning up those endless toys, not to mention picking up the child, which is generally a 9 - 14kg load! We also see shoulders shifted forward or the upper back curving forward.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t just magically go away when the children grow up, so it’s never too late to start making a difference to pain you’re experiencing.
Obviously avoidance is better than cure, but who can avoid lifting and carrying their toddler? Engaging in awareness of what your body is doing so that you can counter it is really important.
Here’s a few tips from the team at Muscle Medicine;
Do some stretches, but don’t go directly for the site of the pain; For shoulder and neck pain, try stretching your pecs against a door frame, move your arm at different angles and see which is the best stretch; For lower back pain, try a forward lunge to stretch out your hip flexors; If you are experiencing neck pain, try gently opening the front of your neck by using your foam roller or lying on your back with a rolled up towel down your spine from shoulder level and your neck gently dropping back on to the ground.
Changing up your routine is smart too, swap the hip you carry your child on, use a stroller when you can.
Make time for Yoga and Pilates, at a studio or at home; Yoga is a great counter balance for all the carrying. The twists, and the triangle pose are great. Just remember to take it slowly, don’t push your body you’ll end up just cheating on the moves and you won’t get the benefits, the same with Pilates. If you’re doing your practice at home, start with the basics, don’t rush into advanced poses.
Of course visiting a therapist if your pain persists and letting them know your pain spots. Your therapist can highlight any patterns you may be holding on to, identify areas you should stretch and areas you should strengthen, they can give you exercises to do at home and also manual massage therapy to give your body a little extra helping hand.
And don’t forget Dad! Sometimes we forget that our partners are carrying our kids too, often putting toddlers on their shoulders, causing issues for them as well.
So if you really want to thank mum for everything she’s done - help her get rid of that ‘pain in the neck’ with a massage from Coby or Laura!