They say that being a mother is the hardest job in the world, and your body probably agrees. From conception, through pregnancy, and into your child’s early years your body undergoes enormous strain and numerous physical challenges. No wonder so many mothers end up experiencing joint pain at one point or another. But what can you do to reduce discomfort from sore joints?
Learn How to Lift Properly
Being a parent necessarily entails an awful lot of bending and lifting. From picking up and carrying your child, to the unnatural positions you get into fitting car seats or carrying shopping, your back and shoulders can find themselves under constant attack. The first key to avoiding unnecessary joint pain is therefore to re-learn those lessons on how to lift properly.
The process taught by employers to their staff apply just as much to young mothers. Aim to keep your back straight, pushing up from the floor with your legs. Also, keep any weight as close to your body as possible – holding your child in outstretched arms is just asking for trouble.
Remain Conscious of Movement
The discomfort of pregnancy and the practicalities of child rearing mean that many of us end up placing our body into abnormal positions – often without even realizing it. We might, for example, unwittingly bend our wrists unnaturally while carrying a child, sit with rounded shoulders while nursing or stoop uncomfortably while putting children into the car. Over time these unusual and abnormal body postures can cause all manner of unexpected joint and muscle pain.
The key here is to try and remain conscious of our bodies more, so that we can identify – and correct – odd postures before they have a negative impact.
Know Your Limits
We all have physical limits, and pushing through these limits is a highly regarded trait for athletes. Mothers, however, should perhaps take their limits a little more seriously. After all, pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention the rigors of child rearing, can have significant impacts on your health. Push yourself too much and you risk burnout, exhaustion or other health issues.
When it comes to avoiding joint pain, as well as other health issues, it can be wise to listen to your body carefully. When you feel yourself reaching your physical limits there is no shame in seeking assistance from friends and family. Better to ask for help when you need it, than to do yourself damage that could put you out of action for weeks to come.
Some interesting science exists regarding the benefit of breastfeeding. You might be surprised to learn that repeated studies have found a direct link between breastfeeding and the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. RA is an unpleasant autoimmune disease whereby the body attacks its own joints, causing swelling, inflammation and pain. The evidence suggests that mothers who breastfeed for at least 12 months are significantly less likely to suffer from arthritis in later life.
Gentle low-impact exercise has been shown repeatedly to help reduce joint pain in sufferers. Of course exercise such as walking or cycling doesn’t just have the potential to reduce joint pain but also has a range of other health benefits. A number of these are particularly relevant for mums, including improved blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disorders. Exercising while pregnant has also been linked to shorter labour and easier childbirth.
Get in the Pool
Back pain may be most common when pregnant, but the rigours of parenthood can cause twinges at almost any time. Studies have shown that aqua aerobics is significantly more effective than alternative land-based forms of exercise for reducing lower back pain. Taking the time to get in the pool and enjoy the relaxing and pain-relieving benefits can therefore be a worthwhile exercise.
A number of dietary supplements are believed to help protect joints from damage and pain. Cod liver oil is a great example, where the omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation and discomfort. In scientific experiments experts have also found that glucosamine can be as effective as more traditional painkillers for easing joint pain, and may also have fewer potential side effects.
Parenthood brings with it a host of risks that can impact joints, causing discomfort and impacting the pleasure of being a mum. Fortunately, there are a range of strategies that you can apply to keep your body in tiptop condition and ready for anything that life (or your kids!) throw at you.
This article was produced by Richard at Simply Supplements.