Can you suggest any exercises to help alleviate back pain caused by carrying my toddler around? My sweet boy wants me to hold him all the time, and he's now over twenty pounds. My back aches all the time now. I actually went to my doctor because I was afraid I had injured myself, and my doctor just suggested that I hold my baby less, and try not to jut my right hip out when I do hold him. I would prefer to get stronger so that I can continue to carry my boy until he doesn't need me so much. My exercise routine mostly involves cardio (elliptical and jogging), and occasional squats and lunges. I know I need to up my strength training, particularly my core (I haven't done crunches in 18 months!). I would so appreciate any tips you might have!
I would have to agree with your doctor in his recommendations. You need to stop holding your little guy, or limit it as much as possible, and you also need to make sure that when you are holding him you have your weight evenly displaced, without your hip swaying to one side or the other. I know, easier said than done, but if you do not get on top of this issue pronto, it is only going to get worse. I train many women, most of whom have had children, and it is rare to find one whose body has not been affected by child bearing.
When you stand with your body contorted, as you are while holding your boy, you are creating a ton of muscular imbalances in your body. The side that you are holding him on is going to become tight and strong, especially the muscles in your back, hips, glutes, upper neck and shoulders. Your other side, the side that is basically going along for the ride, is going to become weak. You are also putting your low back into an extreme extension, which is shortening the muscles in your back as well as compressing your vertebrae. And because your core is most likely weak from being pregnant for 9 months, and delivering a baby, you are even more compromised.
Have I scared you enough? All is not lost and you can keep holding your son, but you need to do the work. Core is important, but forget the crunches because they are not the muscles that you need to strengthen. You need to strengthen your pelvic floor, your transverse abdominals, and all the other muscles that support your pelvis (which I won’t get into as there are too many to list). You need to create balance in how your muscles function as well as ensure the tight muscles become lengthened and the weak muscles become strengthened.
I could help you if we were face to face, but this is too complicated to get into here. What you need to do is seek out a physiotherapist, or chiropractor, that specializes in post natal care. They can be expensive if you do not have extended medical but it is worth the investment. Also, find a yoga class either in a studio nearby or online (I prefer going to classes as you benefit from the hands on instruction) and start stretching. Two days a week would be ideal. If you can make it happen, see a Pilates instructor, and invest in 6-8 sessions with someone who is trained in either rehabilitation or pre and post natal care. Again, this can be quite costly, however it is worth it as they will be able to isolate muscles that you did not even know existed. After a few months of guided help, you will be able to continue on your own, but if you want to continue carrying your son all of this is a must.
Attached - Gwen Stefani out with baby Apollo the other day in Los Angeles.