One demand that seems nearly unavoidable for the modern mother is having to carry an infant car seat. Whether you're trying to keep your little one sleeping or simply using it as a convenient mode of transportation, most moms today are guilty of lugging that thing around past the point of your body telling you not to. But what does carrying a car seat do to your back? Is it just strengthening your body as you like to think, or could it be putting you at risk for serious injury?
According to personal trainer and powerlifter Robert Herbst, it's the latter. In an interview with Romper, Herbst explains. "Carrying a car seat can cause back strain over time because the parent is carrying an uneven load with the weight on one side," he says. "There is added stress from the repeated picking up and putting down the seat, as well as twisting, which the parent does while carrying the seat and reaching for other things, putting the seat in the car and taking it out, and other movements. All of these put uneven strains on the back, which can strain the muscles and discs, as well as on the legs, arms, and shoulders."
So with that kind of cheerful news, what's a parent to do? (It's not like you can set the carseat up on a skateboard for travel.) For starters, Herbst recommends alternating the side of your body that you use to carry the car seat, so you're not consistently overexerting one side. As a personal trainer, Herbst tells Romper that he recommends parents practice regular back strengthening exercises such as side bends, deadlifts, lat pull downs, and rows.
But the optimal solution, says Herbst, is "to use the car seat as little as possible and transfer the baby to a carrier worn either in the front or on the back like a papoose. This has the baby close to the parent's center of gravity so there is less of a load and the load is centered." Once again, our ancestors turn out to be more advanced than us. Now if we could just get rid of those pesky cars.