Squeeze in your workout Wednesday ! I lovelovelove to stack my habits and my exercise throughout the day. It’s laundry day (wait, with two toddlers isn’t every day laundry day?!) so how about squeezing in some extra squats and hip hinge work?
Since we are all upping the hand-washing big time these days due to #coronavirus how about a little #alignment #tutorial since you’re spending way more time (at least 20 seconds of lather 12,147 times per day) scrubbing the nasties off your hands 😝
A few tips to consider: avoid leaning on the counter and thrusting hips forward, stand tall from the crown of your head, keep knees unlocked and soft, try aligning sternum over pubic bone, avoid hunching upper back to reach the water and instead reach through with serratus muscle (bringing shoulder blades forward), shake your #groovethang and maybe even practice getting some good 360 breaths in here, too.
How about a #worldbreastfeedingweek installment of the #holdingyourkidseries , part 5!
Some of you have very quick feeding sessions, and some of you have very long ones. For my breastfed kid, it was 30-60 min per side and she almost always did both sides. So, posture was so important. But even if your kid is a power eater, don’t discount the importance of posture, because it is still probably 10-12 (or more!) times each day, anywhere from 1 month to 36 months (or more! 🙌🙌). That adds up my friends!
Do your best to use what you have to make you comfortable. Baby is going to be happy no matter what, and they can pick up on your feelings so do your best to relax :) I know, so much easier said than done, especially at 3 a.m. and on approximately -279 hours of sleep.
Sit tall through the crown of your head, engage those shoulder blades enough to meet the demand, gently engage your lower abdominals, and breathe into your belly, back, and sides. Your head...keep it up and chin tucked and try to use your eyes as much as you can to look at your babe before you start to bend your neck. Neck and shoulder tension run rampant amongst the breastfeeding population. Take care of yourself, use your eyes. Also, use pillows, blankets, piles of yet-to-be folded laundry, etc. to bolster and get comfy! You don’t have to have a bunch of fancy gadgets for this, though I was personally a fan of the Breast Friend pillow 🙌
This goes for bottle fed babes and mamas pumping! I used pillows under the pump bottles while I was pumping because they got so heavy and caused me to scrunch my shoulders and slouch down under the weight. It was crazy! Then I got smart and found a way for it to work and have my hands free, thanks to the hands free pumping bra. And holding your baby while feeding a bottle is just as taxing on your body as breastfeeding, plus it applies to dads and caregivers!
You’ve got this!
Okay, this time the adjustments are pretty subtle, but with very big improvements as a result. I got to a point where I couldn’t wear my second because it caused symptoms of prolapse. Obviously, I still wasn’t managing pressures well. Once I figured things out I could use the symptoms I felt as a feedback loop. I almost felt lucky that I was getting this instant feedback on my alignment rather than years down the road and after a lot of repetition of bad habits. So, here you go!
See in the first pic you can barely see my neck, head is forward and shoulders are hiked up and rolled forward. Hips are thrust forward, knees are locked out, and glutes are clenched. Bottom strap is much too high, sitting at my waist and in the curve of my lumbar spine. What to do?
Relax glutes! Move hips back over ankles, soften the knees a touch, and engage those lower abs just enough to give stability. Relax the shoulders! Your kid isn’t going to fall out if you relax. Make your neck long, and slightly tuck chin by lifting from the crown of your head. Gently engage between shoulder blades (enough to hold a feather). Move the bottom strap down across your hips. (Your low back just said, “ahhhhh.”)
Think of the unconscious things our bodies do in tight situations. It wants to create tension to push against something. You have a strap across your waist? Your brain wants to push your belly out to create tension against the load, and thus stability. Something pulling down on your shoulders? Your brain wants to push up against the load and you’ll hike your shoulders up. Hips thrust forward on locked knees? Your glutes will clench to create stability from behind. This is why ill-fitting or too-tight clothing is a tricky thing. But that is for another time :)
If you are a sling user, then these same principles apply, but also make sure to switch sides every other time so one shoulder isn’t always taking the load.
**My kids are too heavy now for wearing so today’s model was my daughter’s doll, “Baby Jayne” 😎**
First pic...ahhhhhh! Stop right there! Even my toddler knows it’s a bad position 😂😂😂 See how my back is rounded and the load (my kid) is way out in front of my center of mass? This = very bad things for my back and anterior/posterior core if it were to be a postural habit.
Quick fix: move in so your load is as close to you as possible and squat down (neutral pelvis, engage the core to match the task, neutral spine). Think about using your glutes and not your back or your quads for this. As you come to standing, push through your heels and engage those glutes. Use your biceps to hold and bring in the load, and once again engage the shoulder blades slightly so they can also respond to the load efficiently.
Next, before you start to stand BLOW BEFORE YOU GO. This is a tip from the amazing @juliewiebept and one I use everyday with every single lift and squat (even standing up from a toilet!). Begin to blow out through pursed lips and then complete the move as you exhale completely. I like to inhale with a good 360 breath on the way down (expanding/opening up the pelvic floor and preparing it for a good contraction...because in order to shorten a muscle well, you have to be able to lengthen it first!), snag my load, then begin to blow out through pursed lips right before I push up to standing, continuing to exhale (contracting the pelvic floor* and disbursing the load nicely, avoiding bearing down). It is so engrained in me now that even my kids do it with me 😍
It doesn’t matter what you are or aren’t lifting. It could be a crumb off of the floor, sitting down to/getting up from a meal, on/off the toilet, getting in/out of the car. Practice good mechanics and mind your core and pelvic floor. Always bring the load as close to your center as possible, and harness the power of your breath.
*It should be noted that for me I no longer need to *actively* engage my pelvic floor with different movements; it knows what to do and it does it. But I have done a ton of re-training and re-connection of my PF with the breath. Check with your PFPT first to determine what your strategy should be based on where you are at at that time.
Part two of how to hold the heavy things better!
First pic...I see this all. The. Time. I watched one mama carry her kid around like this at the park recently and she even maintained this posturing after setting the kid down 🤦♀️ If I had cards I would have handed her one and told her to call me. It’s never too late to stop; there IS help.
One sided pelvic pain? Weakness in one hip? One sided knee pain? Low back pain? Neck pain? Jaw pain? Trouble contracting one side of your glutes? Leaking? The list is long!
Think of the domino effect of symptoms with the stance in the first pic. I see functional scoliosis and some serious pelvic issues down the road. The hard part with posture is that negative effects can take months or years to bubble to the surface, so it is really easy to brush off. But just like interest compounds over time and becomes a really big deal eventually, so too does the way in which we hold ourselves and move throughout the day.
Once again, be mindful of how you carry heavy loads (kids, pets, groceries, dog food, etc.). Center your weight over both feet (you want your center of mass centered), feet forward, pelvis neutral, core (lower TAs) engaged slightly, standing tall through crown of your head, engage the shoulder blades with a slight squeeze between them, and use those arm muscles! If it’s too much, decrease the load where possible. The nice thing about the kids is that their weight increases gradually enough that you can adapt to the change in load, but it is still work!
You’ve got yourself an isometric strengthening exercise anytime, anywhere! Make it active with some lunges or squats. And you *know* I have thoughts and pointers on that as well... More to come! Until then, hold the heavy things better!
Or, holding any of the heavy things.
If you have a kid (or several) you likely do a lot of carrying of at least one or two of them. Let’s carry our kids better!
First pic is what I see everywhere. Low back pain bonanza! Shoulder pain, hello! Pelvic heaviness, oof. And a bunch of other things. So, let’s use our muscles instead of hanging on our joints. Stand tall through the crown of your head, feet hip width apart and pointing forward, shoulders relaxed yet engaged slightly between the shoulder blades (like you're trying to hold a feather there), and engage your core! Not a full force contraction of your abdominals, but think of it more as a slight drawing in of the lower portion of the deep abdominals (transverse abdominals). As my 23 month old says, “Ta da, Mama!” Go try both out and see what you think. Takes a little more muscle power to do it right but then you’re squeezing in a mini core workout several times a day!
For my ladies dealing with prolapse, tell your pelvic floors “you’re welcome,” for me. Standing like a schmo? Hello symptoms. Do it better and goodbye symptoms. 😘
When you unconsciously clench your shoulders in some manner. Gripped up, pushed down, squeezed together, lazily rolled forward.
Beware: where your shoulders go, your head often follows. Neck and/or upper back pain? Look at the shoulders.
Start creating awareness of where you hold your shoulders, which are often the place we store a lot of stress. You can often tell much about a person's psychoemotional state based on their shoulder positioning 😎
Just be careful. It isn’t about moving out of one gripped position to another one in an effort to align better, but more about creating awareness of your alignment habits and learning what does and does not serve you. The act of sitting taller through the crown (not the top) of your head is sometimes enough to get things stacked better and relieve some tension. It is easy to do and you can do it anywhere. Even in the car. By the way, bucket seats are slowly destroying our bodies in my opinion!
Un-gripping one area may reveal tightness in another area. That’s okay, and even expected. Take the hint and maybe start to give those things some air time.
Runner, lifter of children, PTA, CPT, PCES, pelvic health zealot