Back School for Caregivers
Written by: Jean O’Brien Murby, PT, PCS
Parents perform frequent heavy lifting throughout their day. Activities such as lifting a child and equipment can easily strain our backs. Here are key elements that provide the basics for good postural alignment, body mechanics and strategies to keep your spine strong and healthy.
1. Practice good posture from head to toe:
- Sit and stand up straight. Start with a chin tuck and bring your shoulders backwards to develop correct alignment.
- Awareness of your postural habits is key. Use a mirror at home facing forward and to the side to view your postural alignment.
- Visualize growing tall when you are seated or standing as needed to elongate your spine.
2. Know key principles for safe lifting;
- Gather what you are lifting close to your body to avoid reaching and twisting your back.
- Lift with the muscles in your legs when possible. Bending your knees allows the strong thigh muscles to perform the heavy lifting.
- Be aware of your trunk alignment to avoid twisting your spine. Face the object you are lifting whenever possible.
- Move together as a unit with the object you are lifting. Do not hold the child or object away from your body.
- Make sure that the surface you are lifting to and from is secure. This includes locking the stroller/wheelchair as unexpected motion can cause you to suddenly tense your muscles as you attempt to regain control of the lift.
3. Develop a strong core by keeping your trunk muscles in good condition. Core muscle groups include abdominals, upper and lower back and hip muscle groups. Ask your child’s physical therapist for resources to learn safe strengthening exercises for these core muscle groups and a review of safe lifting techniques.
Prevention of back strain through postural awareness, maintaining strength and knowing correct body mechanics in lifting will allow you to avoid injury and keep your spine in great condition.
For more information, please contact one of our Pediatric Outpatient sites.