As a new mom, you may be experiencing some neck, shoulder or upper back pain and you may be wondering where all this pain is coming from.
One of the reasons is you are doing a lot more lifting than you were previously. Babies require constant lifting and carrying, including all the accessories that come with a baby like car seats and diaper bags. You may start to feel pain through the shoulders, neck or upper back as these muscles are getting overworked.
Another reason is you are likely doing a lot more forward bending, like over a changing table or picking your baby up in from the crib, and your body is not used to spending this much time in a forward hunched position. As your muscles get fatigued, you will likely start to develop some compensation patterns, like as you nurse your baby, your shoulders and neck start to bend forward. These postural changes contribute a lot of stress and strain through the neck, shoulder, and upper back.
A culprit that tends to get overlooked is weakness in the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, contributing to upper back and neck pain as well. During pregnancy the core muscles and abdominal wall was stretched out, so these muscles are not activating as well, and putting extra stress and strain through the shoulders, neck, and upper back muscles to compensate.
If you notice you are starting to experience this pain or would like to prevent this pain from surfacing, try these tips:
- Strengthen your core muscles – partner with a pelvic health therapist that will examine your core muscles to specifically address your weakness. There are several layers of core muscles, and a targeted program for your core is needed to improve safely and efficiently.
- Utilize a variety of postures and positions throughout the day. This will prevent you from being in a hunched forward position the entire day. Start by taking a little break if you’ve been sitting
or standing for a long period of time. The best cue to use is thinking “coming up tall, opening up through the chest and bringing the shoulders back and down”. You can also do small shoulder rolls to loosen up the muscles.
- Try this posture correction: Stand against a wall, have the back of your head and back touch the wall. Take your arms and shoulders out like a field goal post and move the arms up and down against the wall. While it may seem like a simple movement, you’ll find it challenging to keep your back against the wall. This is a good way to open up the muscles across the chest and move your body out of the hunched forward position.
- Start a strengthening program for the upper back and shoulders. We do recommend starting with building a good core foundation first, to ensure you are not overworking the back and shoulder muscles.
Start with these tips and if you are looking for good ideas on how to restore your core and ease your neck and shoulder pain, schedule a discovery visit to talk with a pelvic floor therapist.