Heavy Lifting: A New Mom's Guide for Avoiding Injury
Lugging an Infant Car Seat
When I became a parent, nobody told me how hard it would be—especially on my wrists, elbows, back, and neck. All the lifting, bending, and twisting I do countless times a day to get my8-month-old and my 3-year-old in and out of strollers, cribs, car seats, and on and off changing tables is taking a physical toll in the form of creaky knees, achy elbows, and a rebellious back.
“I’m constantly treating moms who are suffering from repetitive-stress injuries (RSIs) that result from the wear and tear of being a parent,” says Peggy Brill, a New York City physical therapist and author of The Core Program: Fifteen Minutes a Day That Can Change Your Life.
RSIs are degenerative disorders caused by chronically using poor posture to perform everyday tasks, such as carrying a baby in an infant car seat on your forearm like a handbag. Such poor body mechanics place too much force on ligaments, muscles, joints, tendons, and spinal discs, and can be harmful when done often. Women are especially prone to RSIs because, unlike men, they naturally lack upper-body strength.
The good news is having correct posture and learning how to lift and carry your child properly can reduce your risk of injury. Take a look at these five body-breaking moves and how to fix them.
Don’t: Lean to the side and carry it on your forearm like a purse. “This position stresses your back, shoulder, and—especially—that arm,” says Mary Ellen Modica, a physical therapist at Schwab STEPS Rehabilitation Clinics in Chicago, Illinois.
“After my youngest child was born, I developed pain in my shoulders that wouldn’t go away,” says Sandy Cummings, a mother of three. “The doctor diagnosed it as bursitis.” The culprit: lugging around a 15-pound car seat with a baby inside.
“Carrying an infant car seat on your arm is equivalent to walking around with three or four full paint cans in one hand—something most people wouldn’t do, but yet, they’ll carry a car seat that way,” says Modica.
Do: Put both hands on the handle, bend your elbows, and carry the car seat in front of you. The less distance between your torso and what you’re carrying, the better for your back. Using both hands also helps distribute the weight evenly.
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