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For Women's Eyes Only

By:  David W. Apts, PT, DPT, OCS

This article is for women who have had children, abdominal surgeries and/or spinal surgeries. Why? Because over the last 35 years we have seen a recurring patterns of loss of muscle strength in this population of women.  When this loss of strength goes on over a period of years or decades we see the spinal structures breaking down….primarily, your bones, spinal joints and discs.

PREVENTION IS THE KEY
This is really unfortunate, as this can be prevented with the proper course of exercise for strengthening, endurance and knowledge of how to use all of your muscles to prevent low back injuries.

GREAT OPPORTUNITY
Way back in 1980, I was approached by 3 OB/GYN Doctors to help them keep their new mothers out of their waiting rooms due to back pain. Most new mothers were coming back to their OB doctor for back pain and all the doctors could offer were pills and they saw this was not working and asked for my help.

PROPER EDUCATION TRULY WORKS
By 1980, I had seen enough people suffering from low back pain from various causes to think this should be preventable.

So, I worked to put together a program to teach new mothers how to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, abdominal and low back muscles, and how to use all of these to protect their low backs when they got home to real life (back then most mothers stayed 3-4 days in the hospital so we had an average of 2-3 visits to teach them plus a booklet to take home).

1. YOU MIGHT WONDER WHY?
It is due to all your muscles being weak and ligaments lax after delivery and the internal spinal structures are then absorbing all of the stress you put on your body. In teaching you how  to  use  the  body muscles correctly you can prevent back pain from occurring not only after child birth but for life.

2.  WHAT NOT TO DO
Next, we taught them not to bend at the waist as it further stretches out their already loose back muscles, ligaments, and joints.  Also, not to put the baby on the hips when walking or doing household chores such as cooking, laundry, etc. Doing this helped them adapt to new patterns of movement so they could master this before discharge.

WHAT TO DO
We also taught the new mothers how to lift correctly using their back & belly muscles and hip & leg muscles. We taught them how to position the bassinette so they would be at no risk for bending at the waist and to not put the baby on their hips as this further stretches out the already loose hip muscles. Next, we taught them how to set their back and abdominals for lifting any object at home such as laundry baskets, or to putting baby in their car seat.

TAKING HOME WHAT THEY LEARNED
They received a booklet that went over proper sitting postures with small rolls or pillows behind their backs again so as to keep their spinal column in a normal position. In the booklet were all the positions of lifting a new mother has to do, showing correct technique to reinforce their new learning.

YOUR ONLY PROTECTION
Perhaps, most importantly was the few simple strengthening exercises we had them do on an every other day basis to ensure proper strengthening of the weak muscle groups. Why? The only thing you have in your body to protect all your spinal structures such as your vertebrae, joints, ligaments   and discs, is MUSCLE.  If your muscles are weak all the stress you put on your body daily bypasses your muscles and goes to your spinal structures that were never meant to bear these stressful forces.

THE PRICE OF HAVING WEAK MUSCLES
So the end result for having weak muscles is pain 3-6 weeks after delivery and if you fast forward a few years or decades we see women who are still very weak in all these muscle groups that are now in more serious trouble.

WE ERADICATED BACK PAIN FOR NEW MOTHERS WITH THIS PROGRAM

AND THIS IS ALL PREVENTABLE!
Part 2 of this article for women will go over and outline the muscle group weakness patterns we see daily in women who have had children, abdominal surgery and or low back surgery and how to fix this problem.