Brought to you by Vive Health.
There are a lot of things no one warns you about when you become a parent for the first time.
If there’s one subject that every new or soon-to-be parent should be debriefed on, it’s repetitive strain injuries (also known as RSIs) and how they can keep them at bay.
When most people think of repetitive strain injuries, they think of someone like an office worker struggling with hand pain from typing all day. This is certainly a repetitive strain injury, but they come in all shapes and sizes.
Many new parents experience repetitive strain injuries caused by lifting their babies incorrectly or sitting with poor posture while feeding them. Read on to learn about the specific types of injuries new parents are most prone to and pick up some simple tips to help prevent and treat these injuries.
Common Causes of Repetitive Strain Injuries
Any behavior, done on repeat, can cause a repetitive strain injury. However, some of the most common causes of repetitive strain injuries in new parents include:
- Poor lifting technique
- Poor carrying technique
- Reaching too far behind them or up too high for objects
- Twisting too quickly and straining the spine
- Sitting with poor posture while feeding or rocking them
Obviously, as a new parent, you can’t simply stop doing the behaviors that are contributing to your pain. Your baby needs to be held, and they don’t understand (or, frankly, care) that you’re hurting. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to remedy the problem.
Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injuries
When it comes to treating repetitive strain injuries, one of the first things you need to do is identify the signs and determine whether or not that’s what you’re experiencing.
Some of the most common symptoms of RSIs include:
- Muscle or joint pain, tenderness, and/or frequent knots
- Throbbing or pulsing sensations
- Tingling of the extremities, especially the hands or arms
- Lack of sensation in one or more limbs
- Loss of strength
If you notice yourself experiencing these issues on a regular basis, you may need to take a closer look at some your behaviors to see if they’re the cause of your pain.
Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries
Listed below are some techniques you can implement to prevent repetitive strain injuries and keep yourself feeling healthy and strong as you care for your baby.
Lift Your Baby from the Crib Properly
When you lift your baby from their crib, don’t reach over the railing. Instead, lower the railing and then bring them close to you before picking them up. Keep a slight arch in your back when you do this, and be sure to bend your knees and push through your legs when lifting.
Lift Them from the Floor Properly
When picking your baby up off the floor, stand close to them and keep your back straight. Step into a lunge position, then pull your baby close to you with both arms, lifting with your legs as you stand back up. Do the same steps in reverse when setting your baby down on the floor.
Don’t Carry Them with One Arm
Carrying a baby or toddler with one arm often causes you to tilt to one side. This causes pain in the low back and can even sprain ligaments in the hip or back. Hold them close to your chest and wrap their legs around your waist instead so that they’re more balanced.
Carry Their Car Seat Correctly
When carrying a heavy car seat, don’t let it rest in the crook of your arm like a purse. Instead, carry it with both hands by the handle while keeping your elbows bent. Make sure it stays in front of your body with the weight evenly distributed.
Treating Repetitive Strain Injuries
In addition to changing the way you move with your baby, these tips can help treat existing injuries and prevent them from getting worse:
- Temporary use of over-the-counter painkillers
- Hot-cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling
- Physical therapy to relearn old, pain-inducing behaviors
You can also try alternative therapies like yoga, acupuncture, and massage to help reduce your pain and improve your range of motion.