May 16, 2018

Five Best Exercises to Help New Moms Avoid Back Pain

As a new mom, your day probably seems like a never-ending stream of bending over and picking up your baby from the floor, their crib, and their car seat. And, when you’re not picking your baby up, you’re probably carrying them from one of these locations to another.

With all this lifting and carrying, it’s no wonder so many new moms struggle with back pain.

Whether you’re currently dealing with back pain or want to prevent it, these five exercises can help you stretch and strengthen your muscles to avoid back pain while caring for your little one.

1. Chest Stretch

Most people these days tend to spend a lot of time hunched over, new moms included.

As a mom, you’re less likely to be hunched over a computer and more likely to be hunched over your child as you feed or play with them. But, whatever your reason for rounding your shoulders and upper back, the end result is still the same: a tight chest and sore upper back.

To counteract this, stand in a door frame with your arms to the side, bent at 90-degree angles. Keep your arms in place and lean forward into the frame. Hold this for about thirty seconds, then relax.

2. Scapular Retractions

In addition to stretching your chest, it’s also important to work on strengthening the muscles in the back if you want to correct your posture and avoid back pain. One of the best exercises you can do for this is scapular retractions. 

To do them, stand up straight with your arms extended in front of you, parallel with the floor. Keep your arms straight and pull your shoulder blades back -- your arms will retract slightly as a result. Repeat 10-12 times.

3. Posterior Pelvic Tilts

If you struggle with lower back pain, posterior pelvic tilts can help strengthen the lower back and lower abdominal muscles to better support your spine.

To do posterior pelvic tilts, lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Tuck your pelvis under by pulling in your lower abs and slightly rounding your back -- think of bringing your pubic bone up toward your chest. As you do this, your lower back should touch -- or get close to touching -- the floor. Repeat 10-12 times.

4. Bird Dog

This is another great exercise for strengthening the abdominals to avoid back pain and improve posture. 

To do this exercise, kneel on all fours. Make sure all your joints are aligned (wrists under shoulders, knees under hips). Gaze down at the floor and keep your neck neutral to avoid straining it.

Pull your abdominals in and slowly lift your right arm and left leg until they’re parallel to the floor. Don’t let your stomach sag down toward the ground -- keep everything engaged. Hold this position for a couple seconds, then slowly lower your limbs back to the original position. Repeat 10-12 times, then switch sides.

5. Hip Circles

This is a great exercise for stretching your hips and correcting any imbalances you may experience from carrying your child around on one side of your body all day. 

Start on all fours, just like you did for the bird dogs. Engage your abdominals and lift your right leg behind you. Bend your knee to bring your right heel toward your glutes, then slowly draw circles with your knee to loosen up the hip. 

Do 4-5 clockwise circles, then repeat with 4-5 counterclockwise circles before switching sides.

Other Tips to Avoid Back Pain

These five exercises, when performed regularly, can work wonders for keeping back pain at bay. But, sometimes, accidents happen and you need a little extra help. 

Combine the following tips with the exercises mentioned above as soon as you start feeling pain to speed up the healing process:

  • Alternate between ice and heat therapy to soothe muscle pain
  • Avoid lifting your child as much as possible (recruit the help of your significant other or a family member if you can)
  • Use a topical pain reliever (there are lots of pain-relieving creams available at the drugstore, or you can use a natural option like peppermint oil)

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer: