I am 33 years old which, by my calculations, isn't terribly old. But sometimes I bend over to pick up one more toy or stand up from my desk and, man, my back freaking hurts. I'm not alone, right? I feel like it doesn't matter how many core exercises I do or efforts I make toward good posture, the end of a long day can also mean an aching back. I often ask my husband to fill the role of personal masseuse, but he's not always around. So I need to know, what pressure points relieve mom back pain, especially when it comes to mom-ing a toddler? Oh, and can you come over and help me with it right now, please?
"The majority of mothers (myself included) will tend to carry their toddler around on one hip, causing the spine to curve to compensate," Lyndsay Hirst, creator of Your Pilates Physio, tells Romper in an email interview. "What I see clinically is that these mothers develop tightness and pain in a muscle at the side of their lower back called the quadratus lumborum muscle. This gives them a deep ache type of pain on one side, which is the side they tend to favor and carry their child on."
You know what she's talking about? Yeah, me too.
Hirst says the best treatment for this is trigger point (pressure point) release of the muscle and it's something you can do yourself. You will find your quadratus lumborum trigger point in between your ribs and your pelvis (on your back) if you press towards your spine. You can either do this with your thumb or lay down on the floor with a tennis ball under that side of your back gently rolling on and off it.
Note: I've now tried the tennis ball thing-y and it's a godsend.
In addition to the quadratus lumborum, Dr. Alex Tauberg, a chiropractor at Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, says some other common trigger points for back pain happen in the erector spinae, gluteus medius, and piriformis muscles. Tauberg tells Romper in an email interview that tips on avoiding back pain include avoiding lifting with your back and using your knees and hips to lift instead.
Hirst says that tip can be especially helpful when it comes to playing with small children. She recommends that instead of always lifting your child, try crouching down to their level try to resolve whatever reason they want to be picked up. Hirst also says to switch hips — as foreign as it might feel at first — to avoid always carrying your child on the same side.
"Make sure you also regain your core strength after having a baby," she says. "Your pelvic floor and deep tummy muscle work together to support your spine. If these are weak then you will almost certainly suffer with back pain, especially if your tummy muscle split during your pregnancy."
Rachel Beider, owner of Massage Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York, tells Romper in an email interview that there are also some Chinese medicine points that help back pain and can be found remotely. For instance, one is located in the hand, which is great for moms because it can be done anywhere.
"Try applying pressure to the back of your hand between your thumb and forefinger, moving towards where the thumb and forefinger bones come together near your wrist," she says. "Another can be found on the palm of your hand at the base of the thumb, also known as your "thenar eminence." Beider also recommends pressing along the edge of your palm, just below where the pinky meets the palm. "Feel around," she says. "If any of those points are tender, massage deeply."
Bonus points for all of these tips? You can help ease back pain all by yourself. Which is a total score in my book.
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