Monday, June 3, 2013

Parent Posture

Did you know that new moms spend more time hunched over than the average computer programmer?  Ok, so I don’t have any hard data, but I challenge someone to say it isn’t true.

So what does all this bending over do to our bodies?  It causes something called Kyphosis.  Simply put, Kyphosis is a rounding forward of the upper spine and shoulders.  Essentially the chest muscles get to tight and the back muscles get to weak.  This is often paired with tight anterior (front) shoulder muscles and weak posterior (back) shoulder muscles.

Aside from being less than flattering, hunched posture can lead to headaches, neck pain and back discomfort.  Your spine goes from the base of your skull to your tail bone so anything attached to it along the way is fair game.

So what do we do about it?  We balance it out.  We need to strengthen our back and posterior shoulder muscles and stretch our chest and anterior shoulder muscles.  Add in some good postural habits throughout the day and your set.


1. Scapular Retraction

You can do this seated or standing.  You can even do it while holding your baby if you have to.  Engage your core muscles and stand tall.  Take a deep breath in.  As you exhale squeeze your shoulder blades together.  Repeat 10-15 times.

2. Reverse Fly

This is easiest to do standing.  Holding two 5 lb dumbbells, bend 90 degrees at the hips.  keep your knees soft. Look at the ground to keep your neck safe.  Inhale.  On the exhale, open your arms at the shoulder joint like you are flying.  Don’t worry about how high you go.  Just make sure your posterior shoulder muscles are doing the work.  Repeat 10-15 times.


1. T-Stretch

Sit or stand tall  Open your arms out like you are a letter T.  Engage your core.  Hold for 5 breath cycles.

2. Hand cuff

Sit or stand tall.  Lace your fingers together behind your back.  Your hands will be on your buttock.  Gently open your push your arms back until you feel a nice stretch across your chest and shoulders.

Good Habits

1. Stroller Smarts

Keep your stroller close to your body and stand tall.  Don’t hunch over your stroller or let your bum lag behind.  Use shop windows as a handy mirror for watching your posture.

2. Core Contraction

As you go about your day, remember to engage your deep core muscles.  Begin by lifting your pelvic floor muscles (aka Kegels) and then drawing your navel into your spine.  Don’t forget to breathe.

All Fit 4 Two classes consider parenting posture.  Find a class near you.

Hammock or Lounge Chair?

If you are in your third trimester, you are probably thinking about where your baby is in your uterus.  Is that the bum?  Is that a foot?  As your due date nears you might also be worrying about optimal fetal positioning for birth.  Ideally, baby is head down with his back against your tummy.  So how can you encourage that position?

Getting down on your hands and knees is one of the easiest ways to encourage baby to hang out in that ideal position.  When you are on your hands and knees, your uterus is like a hammock  Baby wants to settle in.  Conversely, when you spend a lot of time seated, especially slouched or on an incline, baby is going to want to lie his back on your back like a lounge chair.

Since most of us are required to sit for long periods during the day, it is important to make time to get down on all fours each day during your third trimester.  It will also relieve your lower back and give you ideas for labouring positions.  If your wrists are bothering you, go on your elbows and knees instead.  You can also kneel and lean your upper body on a couch or fit ball.

Here are some ideas for exercises and stretches you can do on all fours:

Cat Stretch

Super Moms