We had a lovely message from a lady who had recently read our blog on back care written specifically for grandparents. She wrote how useful she had found it so we thought it was high time we re-blogged it for all those who are looking after their grandchildren and maybe feeling the effects.
At Luck’s Yard we treat a large number of older people and are increasingly finding that grandparents are being asked to help with childcare which seems to be causing a knock on effect on their health.
Tone Tellefsen Hughes, owner of Luck’s Yard clinic says:
“Around 30% of our clinic client base are patients over the age of 60, many of whom play some role in looking after young grandchildren. We find that we often treat grandparents with acute or chronic back or shoulder injuries, who are concerned about letting their children down, should they be unable to help out with childcare.
“Grandparents are often very active nowadays and keen to keep fit and active generally as well as being able to be part of their grand children’s lives. Much of our clinical work at Luck’s Yard is therefore concerned with helping patients get back into shape so that they can help with this important task as well as getting on with their lives.
PRACTICAL BACK PAIN ADVICE FOR GRANDPARENTS
Top tips for avoiding back pain when you look after young children:
- Only lift a child if you have to. Lift them close to you and centrally, and do switch sides if you need to carry them on the hip. Stand evenly on both legs avoiding weight bearing on one hip and leg.
- When you lift babies and toddlers in and out of the cot, hold your stomach muscles in (bracing) and engage the pelvic floor muscles for support.
- For the older toddlers, make the children climb up in a stool/chair before you lift them up. At this age they could also climb into the car seat by themselves under supervision.
- Avoid carrying a bucket car seat for too long, and with the same arm. This will cause uneven strain on your back.
- Whenever possible, use a sling, pram or a push chair to save the strain on your back and arms/shoulders.
- When you use a push chair while shopping, try to use your stomach muscles to strengthen your core when you go around corners in the supermarket. Make sure the handle bars are tall enough for your height to avoid prolonged stooping.
- Use a table at waist height so that you do not bend over too much and for too long. Put one foot up on a small stool under the table to tuck the pelvis under the back to ease the curvature of the back.
- When you sleep, try to sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs to avoid twisting the spine and straining the back muscles unnecessarily.
Bed rest is not the best way to beat back pain, neither is prolonged sitting or standing. Studies show that active rest is the best prescription, keeping the muscles and joints gently activated, but not strained. If the injury is acute and of a muscular nature we recommend using an ice pack (covered by a kitchen towel) over the area for ten minutes three times a day to offer pain relief and reduce the inflammation. You can also lie down on the bed and bend your knees to your back gently to stretch out the back muscles and do the yoga cat stretch on all fours 3-4 times a few times a day to increase flexibility. But we advise you to get personalised advice from a registered chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath to help you manage the condition.