Do you have classic mom hip? It often presents as low back pain and aches and pains.
We’ve all seen mom hip in full-blown effect. It can be seen in all its glory on the flustered mom with the toddler perched on her hip, diaper bag draped over her shoulder, as she tries to push the stroller using her only free hand and the downgrade of the nearest hill. Yep. That’s classic mom hip in full effect. These daily stresses don’t only leave us looking like a hot mess in the Target parking lot, but feeling like one, too. These little things that we do day in and day out are what catches up with us overtime.
So why is mom hip a big deal? Well, when your hips are out of line, which so commonly happens to women—especially moms—the result can be low back pain, knee pain, ankle and groin strains, and even digestive issues. The pain can range from annoying to debilitating.
Like so many life lessons, I learned the hard way. I started having some low back pain after straining to carry my toddler on my hip and his twin brother in the wagon behind me. The wagon got caught in sand, so I pulled harder. Oncoming traffic was approaching. I was flustered. I wasn’t thinking about my posture. The result…I torqued my body, which caused my hips to shift out of alignment. Truth be told, they were probably out of alignment prior to the “incident,” slowly building up tightness only to come to light over time as crippling low back pain.
Rest allowed it to mend some, but I still felt it nagging. Fast forward three months to our beach vacation in which I carried my twins the entire time—up stairs, in the water, from the beach to the house, and the pain came back with a vengeance. This time I got assessed and discovered that my right hip was sitting much higher than my left, causing a pinched nerve and low back spasms.
Turns out, this problem is terribly common, especially among women. Why? The simple answer: We carry shit. ALL. THE. TIME.
The three culprits for mom hip are: 1) carrying kids with poor posture; 2) carrying a purse; 3) crossing our legs. Each of these can send our pelvis out of alignment. This shift causes a torque, or pulling, and can be the hidden culprit for low back pain.
So let’s dig a little deeper into these three mom-hip culprits and how to improve our chance of survival.
The Kid Carry.
Why it is hard on our body.
Kids weigh a lot. They also move a lot. Our bundles of joy, who come in a variety of awkward-to-carry shapes and sizes, put a lot of strain on our bodies. Your kid may even come in the flailing model, or the dead weight fast-asleep model. No matter your child, chances are you are holding them less than ideal. Our bodies are inherently lazy, so we try to compensate for our heavy load by using whatever means possible—a jutted hip, arched back, torqued torsos. This puts strain on our body’s supports.
- What not to do…
Don’t arch low back.
Don’t jut out hip.
Don’t tuck butt under.
- What to do instead…
Center your kid in front.
Use your arms and core to hold the weight.
Make their asses walk more.
The Purse (or Diaper Bag) Carry.
Why its hard on our body.
When we carry a purse, our natural gait is thrown off. The way we walk has a significant impact on alignment and postural health. When we put a purse on one side of the body, it means the arm on that side can’t swing freely, so your other arm compensates by swinging more.
Mom purses are the worst. They weigh about 8 million pounds. Sure, you have tissues, a wallet, some make-up from back when you used to have time to wear that kind of thing, and likely a crusty sandwich from a month ago, which arguably could come in handy if you become stranded in a deserted area. But seriously…all that weight on one side of the body is a real hazard. Most of us carry our purses on the same side of our body—usually our dominant side. This causes the muscles that support this weight to become bigger. “Awesome,” you are probably thinking. But asymmetry in our muscles results in other areas of the body compensating. In this case—it will probably be your low back muscles and sacrum. The more asymmetric your shoulders, the more your lower extremities will have to compensate.
- What not to do:
Don’t carry a big purse.
Don’t carry a purse that inhibits movement of your arms.
Don’t wear it in the same position.
- What to do instead:
Minimize. Lighten your load. Really, clean that purse out. You don’t need but a fraction of what you are hauling around.
Cross-body purses can better distribute the weight.
Backpacks are the best option. Besides, it is handy to have both arms available for when you properly hold your kid!
If you are wearing a traditional one-strap purse, switch sides frequently.
Crossing Your Legs.
Why it’s hard on our body.
“Sit like a lady,” your mama probably told you as a young girl. I bet she didn’t know sitting with your legs crossed puts your hips in a torqued position, which can lead to the rotation of one of your pelvic bones. “Huh. Huh. Did you, mom?” But seriously, crossed legs puts a lot of pressure on your spine. Some even say that it can cause spider veins, create higher blood pressure and cause issues in your feet.
- What not to do:
Don’t cross your legs.
- What to do instead:
Stand whenever possible. Sitting is hard on our bodies…period.
If you are sitting, aim to have your feet out in front, both knees at a 90 degree angle.
And if you must cross those legs, try to be aware and shift your posture often–one leg, the other, no crossing.
First and foremost, shift your daily habits to prevent and mend mom-hip. Up next, exercises and stretches to help fix your mom-hip if you are already dealing with hip or back pain.