Caring for young children is one of the most important jobs in the world. However, the importance of this occupation can be quickly overshadowed when you’re constantly in pain. All of the standing, stooping, bending, pulling, twisting, and lugging you do in a day can really do a number on your spine and back. Here are some things you can do to prevent debilitating back pain from happening to you:
Get control of your core. One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to strengthen your transverse abdominis muscle, which is sometimes called the body’s natural weightlifting belt. This muscle is instrumental in stabilizing the spine and pelvis when you lift. The stronger it is, the less strain your back will endure when you’re lifting children. One exercise you can do to strengthen this muscle is to pull your abs in like you are trying to move your belly button towards your spine.
Lift infants and toddlers properly. When one of your charges needs you to comfort him, the last thing you’re thinking about is proper lifting techniques. However, if you want to prevent lower back injuries, paying attention to your form when you lift an infant or toddler is important.
Here’s how the Department of Defense Ergonomics Working Group suggest caregivers lift infants off the floor:
- Put one foot next to the infant and straighten your back.
- Push your bum out and slowly lower yourself down to one knee.
- Adjust the baby’s position so that he is close to the knee that’s on the floor.
- Slide the baby from the knee that’s on the floor to the middle of your thigh and then lift him onto the opposite thigh.
- With your palms facing up, put both of your forearms under the infant and hug him close to you.
- Keep your back straight, head forward, and buttocks out.
- Lift by extending your legs.
Toddlers are heavy, so avoid lifting them whenever you can. In instances where you have to lift a tot, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, straighten your back, and squat down. Bring the child close to you, hold her securely, tighten your abs, and use your leg muscles to lift.
Stretch your back to keep it pliable. When you work with children, you do a lot of bending and twisting. If the range of motion in your back and spine is limited, you could easily strain yourself and pull muscles. Doing simple stretching exercise during and after work can improve your flexibility and make bending and twisting motions easy.
Support your back when you’re sitting on the floor. Sitting on the floor to interact with youngsters is part of your job. However, it can place strain on your back and spine. Whenever you’re doing floor activities, sit with your bum against the wall to help support your lower back.
Lifting properly, strengthening your ab muscles, supporting your back and improving your flexibility can help you prevent back pain, and allow you to give youngsters the kind of quality care they deserve.
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