The afternoon of my bachelor party, I remember picking up my buddy from his house. As he walked to the car, his posture was stooped, his steps were short and he was holding his lower back. I thought he was joking about being old. He wasn’t.
The pain only got worse the day after the party. We had just finished breakfast to ease our hangovers when I saw him down on all fours near a bush outside the restaurant.
The sequence went like this: Vomit. Sharp back pain. Groan from sharp back pain. Repeat.
My buddy was, and still is, a gym rat who lives an active lifestyle. For him to be in that much back pain in his early 30s surprised me. It wasn’t until about two years after the incident, when my daughter was born, that I realized I had the same issue.
Think about all the time you spend as a new parent holding the baby, bending down to pick her up, standing, “Here, you take her,” and various other new movements that you experience. Your body is not used to the contortion.
I experienced the same pain just a few months after my daughter was born.
Despite my fear of chiropractors, especially because I don’t even pop my own knuckles because I hate the sound, I consulted one at a co-worker’s advice to see if it was just me and my buddy who experienced these similar pains. I was surprised with the outcome.
Why is this Happening?
Todd Stevenson, owner of Peak Performance Chiropractic in downtown Reno since 2006, knew exactly what I was going through.
New parents come in to his practice all the time. As a father with two children, Stevenson had the same issues.
“Suddenly, I was carrying a 10 pound weight on one side of my body all of the time, while still trying to do everything else I would always do,” said Stevenson, who has two daughters (2 ½ and 5 months). “That weight kept slowly becoming heavier. I would find myself doing so much more with my free hand. I wasn’t lifting with my legs nearly as much. There wasn’t time to think about proper mechanics.”
Stevenson also brought up a good point: Sleep and time were suddenly a premium. Getting four-to-six hours sleep was common and there was no time for the gym. The balance of muscles from back to front can be completely out of proportion.
Get Back in the Game
Stevenson suggested seeing a chiropractor if it gets bad. There are, however, other things you can do to prevent back pain. Stevenson suggests:
- Foam Roll – Keep it by the couch, or whichever room you spend most time in. You can get a good one on Amazon for less than $15. Lie on your back, put the roller behind you and use your legs to move up from your mid back to your neck. Turn it the other direction (parallel with your spine), and lie on your back with your arms to each side, then hold this position for 30 seconds or more.
- Use a baby carrier – Learn how to put it on by yourself easily. This will help keep baby in a more neutral position, and you may find yourself moving your torso more to sooth baby instead of swinging your arms. Plus, it keeps your core muscles engaged.
- Bend your knees – Every time you are lifting the baby, remind yourself to bend knees slightly. Even a little bit takes significant pressure of your lower back.
- Make yourself uncomfortable – Try holding with the less familiar side to give your dominant side a break and develop more balance with your posture. So much of our back pain is tied to postural patterns that we do all day. So when you can think about it, try to mirror image what feels comfortable to you on the opposite side. This will help minimize the chronic pain.
I haven’t had back pain in over a year. Being aware of your body and the movements you make will certainly help.
Parenting definitely makes you feel old every day, but it doesn’t have to be painful.