ErgoMOMics: Part 1
This blog is being dedicated to all the busy moms out there trying to work, run a household, raise children and take care of themselves. Moms put themselves last so they are often experiencing physical issues that they have no time to address. The idea of “just put yourself first” or “carve out some time for yourself” makes sense literally but in real life, it rarely happens for most moms. There is a field of study called Ergonomics where scientists study work tasks and how the body can do these tasks most efficiently without body harm and offers suggestions on how to modify a work location such as an office desk, assembly line or a lift/carry job.
Moms have multiple job descriptions: household management: cleaning, budgeting, shopping including loading/unloading groceries, laundry, cooking, and dressing/bathing children. They are transporters to sports practice and dance classes. Most moms feel like the ringmaster of a three ring circus. Mom’s job never stops and it is as busy as it will get when you have infant/small children at home or in grade school. So, here is part one of a series of suggestions to help you as you handle your own personal three ring circus. These are a few suggestions to help you avoid the physical wear and tear of motherhood:
Laundry: Carry balanced loads. Consider using smaller baskets versus one big one that can become too heavy. If you are a side hip carrier of baskets, alternate sides so that your body does not get molded into carrying repetitive loads just on one side. Slide the basket down the stairs instead of carrying it down. Load and unload the washer and dryer while protecting your back. Use your hips and knees and avoid placing your spine in an uncomfortable position. See pictures.
Loading/Unloading a Car: Slide loads that are in the back of a trunk or deep within your SUV forward toward you before you lift them. This helps keep the load close to your spine in proper alignment and lets you lift while using large leg muscles, arm muscles with a fully fired core in a good spinal position. Avoid twisting. Move your legs and whole body in the direction that you need to carry a load. Do not try to carry too much at once and balance your load. You can hurt your wrist/forearm by trying to string too many plastic bags up your arm or carrying with just your fingers. Make sure your path is clear to move. Take your time – you may need more trips to do it right. Think of it as exercise because it is functional exercise – do it safe to preserve your body.
Bathing little ones: Do yourself a favor and invest in one of those dollar store garden kneeling mats. Kneel on one of these while bathing your children. It will protect your knee caps. Stay close to the tub while bathing – do not be rounding your back to reach the child. Get into a half kneel position to bring child out of tub. Bring them close to you first then lift while you are still kneeling or half kneeling. Wrap them in towel and dry them off. You are closer to your work this way and will not strain your back. See picture
Lifting a baby/child from a crib/playpen: Get as close to the crib/playpen as possible while having a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other to help you weight shift. If the child can listen and move self- have them come close to you. If they cannot, try to move child close before lifting. If device can be lowered (crib rail) lower it to your advantage so you are not reaching overtop a high rail. Lift and pull child close to you – do not try to hold with outstretched arms – this will strain your back.
Lifting child from floor: Teach children to come to you to be picked up. Get in a half kneel position and bring child close to your body. Then, lift up as your legs are standing up. Do not bend your back to pick up a child. Bend at your hips and knees.
Getting a child in/out of a car seat: Avoid contorting your body. Keep spine as vertical as possible. Use your legs to leverage your movement. Keep the child as close to your body as possible. Pivot instead of twisting.
Carrying and feeding a child: Keep child close to you and centered as much as possible while carrying. Car seat carriers can strain arms over time. Alternate hands carrying the car seat. Try not to carry too many things with the car seat. Use a cross over diaper bag/purse or a backpack. When breast feeding or bottle feeding, prop child up on a pillow to bring them to you so that you are not trying to bend down and bring yourself to them. Bending forward for long periods is hard on your neck and upper back.
I hope you have found these tips to be helpful. More ErgMOMics will follow in future blogs.
Optimal Physical Therapy and Sports Performance is your “go to” facility if you are hurting and need to get your life back into motion again! We often treat new moms and moms who have various physical issues. Whether you are a new or a seasoned mom with many years of wear and tear, we can help. Call us at (724)779-1300.