When retirement becomes “active living”
Arguably, the most physically demanding grandchild is a toddler. Expect to play games of hide and seek, change nappies, and serve as a human playground climber. Sooner or later, you will probably lift and carry your hefty preschooler, or be cajoled into joining them on the floor. As quoted by Gene Perret, “An hour with your grandchildren can make your feel young again. Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly.” And that “ageing feeling” is frequently associated with lower back pain.
Managing the ups and downs
It is often necessary that grandchildren utilize floorspace for their activities. To be a participant in the fun, you may be required to maneuver your body from an upright position to sitting on the floor. At some point, you will need to rise again, and gravity is not your friend when tasked with this test! For many individuals, getting down and up from a floor can be physically challenging.
Prior to lowering yourself, prepare a “floor exit strategy” by ensuring that a chair is nearby. Use the chair to leverage and return your body to a standing position. And it is advisable to practice this movement to gauge your physical ability level. Here is a link to helpful advice if you struggle with this type of movement.
What happens when your back isn’t in full swing?
Another issue that arises from reaching and picking up a 15kg-toddler is lower back strain. Repeated bending of the lower back with the added weight of a wriggling youngster can stress lumbar structures of the spine (discs and soft tissues). And lower back strain typically yields lower back pain . In fact, a 2017 study conducted by the international healthcare company, Bupa UK, found that the primary cause of injuries sustained by adults when caring for youngsters was related to lifting and carrying children. Lower back pain was a common result of these injuries, including more serious conditions such as herniated spinal discs.
There is evidence that shows you can reduce your risk of lower back pain by decreasing trunk and lower back stiffness and improving strength. Additionally, exercises can assist in the treatment of lower back pain
Exercises that may help prevent lower back pain
Alternate arm and leg raises to strengthen the back muscles
- Lie face down with your arms stretched overhead and palms on the floor.
- Gently tighten your abdominal muscles. Then lift one leg and the opposite arm together.
- Lower your leg and arm together.
- Repeat on the other side.
Trunk rotation (bird beak)
- Start in a side-lying position on the floor with your knees together, with knees and hips bent to ~ 45 degrees. Straighten your arms together on the floor in front of you.
- Keeping your top arm straight slowly lift towards the ceiling rotating your trunk and shoulders looking behind you as you take a deep breath.
- As you rotate, lower your straight arm behind you toward the floor. Ensure your knees are together.
- Gently return your arm back to the starting position as you breath out.
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