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Toddlers, car seats, and body mechanics

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Oct 13, 2010 Under body mechanics, health, toddlers

Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 11.32.25 PMLately, when I drop off or pick up my son at daycare,  I have noticed how much some people strain their bodies when placing and removing their young children to/from car seats. My son weighs 32 lbs, and it is becoming difficult for me these days to lift him into his seat, so one day I asked him to climb in himself, and, to my surprise, he did it without a problem, and actually liked it!

My first recommendation to decrease the strain on the parents’ bodies, would be to have the child climb into the car seat on his/her own. You may have to give them a hand in the beginning, but they learn quickly. If the child is unable to climb up independently, then parents should use proper lifting mechanics. Don’t just bend forward at your hips and back and pick up your toddler with extended arms. The pressure on your spinal disks as well as strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back, neck, shoulders, and wrists is quite significant, especially repetitively, and is likely to result in injury. Either squat down with both legs, sticking your buttocks out, hold the child close and then use your legs to straighten up. Or, kneel down on one knee, hold the child close and then stand up from there. Once you have the child and are upright, get as close to the car seat as you can, place one foot in the car, and facing the car seat, place your child in.

Next, comes the buckling in of the squirmy little person. I now ask my two year old to place his arms through the belt loops on his own, which he is usually happy to do. If your car seat is installed in the center of the back seat (safest position), then you should try to get as close as possible to it, by getting in and kneeling on one knee, or both, to avoid straining your back and neck. If the seat is installed behind the driver (next safest option), then placing one foot  just inside the car, with the knees and hips bent, and facing the car seat, should provide a good base of support for your center of gravity, and greatly reduce the strain on your back, neck and extremities.

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Wrist and thumb pain?

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Nov 26, 2008 Under body mechanics, health

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the sheath that surrounds two tendons that control movement of the thumb and/or the inflammation of the tendons themselves. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and in this case, the involved tendons are those of extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles, which move the thumb away from the palm in the plane of the palm. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is often caused by repetitive hand and thumb motions, such as lowering a child or plate, typing on hand held device (aka Blackberry thumb), wringing, and use of a computer mouse. Symptoms include pain on the thumb side of the wrist, possibly spreading further up the forearm and/or to the thumb, swelling, “snapping” sensation when moving thumb, numbness on back of thumb and index finger, and pain with grasping objects with thumb and forefinger. Diagnosis is typically made through a physical examination, specifically the Finkelstein’s test. Treatment often consists of rest, keeping wrist in a neutral position (via use of a thumb spica splint), which allows the affected tendons to rest

Finklestein's Test

Finklestein's Test

and heal. Anti-inflammatory medications may help decrease swelling and reduce pain. Iontophoresis or phonophoresis may also be used. Visiting a physical or occupational therapist who specializes in hand therapy can help speed recovery and provide knowledge of proper body mechanics, useful exercises, and how to avoid injury in the future. If conservative treatment fails, the doctor may inject cortisone to the inflamed site. If nothing else yields results, surgery may be performed to release the roof of the tunnel to give the tendons more space. With conservative treatment, you may feel better in four to eight weeks. After surgery, recovery is more involved and usually takes several months.

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Carrying a baby in a car seat

Posted by Alina on Thursday Nov 13, 2008 Under body mechanics, health

The safest way to carry anything is to have have your center of gravity within your base of support. When standing upright, our center of gravity is at our navel, and the base of support are our feet. Weather you lean forward to pick up a box or a feather, you may still end up hurting your back, because the weight of your upper body is placed outside of your base of support (feet). It would be safer for you to walk as close to the object as possible, squat, and then lift using your legs. To carry the object, you would want to keep it as close to your upper body as possible, to reduce strain.

In keeping with the above principle,  carrying a baby strapped to a car seat by the handle of the seat is quite straining for most people. There are two good options:

1) If the baby is in the seat, lift the seat from underneath with both arms, and hold in front of you, close to your body.

2) Hold the baby with one arm, and the empty seat with the other.

As always, when carrying, keep your abdominal muscles taught to provide support for the lumbar spine.

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My son who is now six and a half months old, has begun pulling himself up in the crib. Three days ago he was getting to his knees, so we moved the crib mattress down a notch so that he would not tip over and fall out (our crib has 3 possible mattress positions). Today he started coming up on his feet, and we had to lower the mattress yet again. It’s now at the lowest possible setting. Although the crib has a drop side, the mattress is now too low to allow me (5’5″) to reach in and pick a baby who is lying down without injuring myself. When I come to the crib, my son is usually on all fours, waiting to get out, I first drop the side down, help him up to a kneeling position, then up on his feet (while he is supporting his own weight) and then I lift him up. This reduces the strain on my back, especially since I have to perform this motion several times a day. If the baby is too young for kneeling or standing, then sitting them up before lifting would also reduce strain. It is also important to keep your knees bent, tighten the abdominal muscles, avoid rounding your back over the crib side, and lift the baby up close to your chest/ shoulder.

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Breast feeding and back pain

Posted by Alina on Thursday Oct 23, 2008 Under body mechanics, feeding, useful tips

Breast feeding often results in some back, neck, and even shoulder pain for the mother. Being aware of and correcting body mechanics can have a big impact on preventing and/or relieving some of this pain.

Breastfeeding in sitting:

1. Choose a comfortable seat, with neck/head support if possible.

2. Use armrests or place pillows to support forearms/elbows.

3. A small pillow or rolled up towel at low back for lumbar support may help.

4. Bring the baby to the breast rather than leaning down to the baby. This may require placing the baby on a couple of pillows or placing an extra pillow under the Boppy or the My Breast Friend.

5. Try to have the baby’s weight resting on pillows so that your arms are relaxed.

6. It often feels good to elevate the legs and rest them on a foot stool.

7. Periodically perform a body position check: shoulders down, head/ neck in neutral (not forward), back relatively straight, abdomen slightly tucked, legs relaxed.

Breastfeeding lying down on your side:

1. Place pillow under your head.

2. Place the arm you are laying on straight out in front of you, may bend elbow to bring hand under head.

3. Make sure your head is aligned with the rest of your spine, not excessively forward.

4. Bending hips and knees and placing pillow between knees should help relieve back pain.

5. Placing a pillow behind your back, or having your partner close behind you to lean on and rolling 1/4 of a turn back may also help relax the back muscles.

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