Back Pain

I will never make fun of old people again

Now I know why older people always complain about back pain, and I will never make fun of them again. I tried to come up with a witty title for this post, but in the words of my friend “back pain is no joke.”

My mom and dad are still in their 50s, which make them relatively young grandparents. From time to time, I will hear them complain about back pain.

Me: “Why didn’t you go walking today?”
Mom or Dad: “My back was hurting.”

Me: “Why didn’t you go to the gym?”
Mom or Dad: “My back was hurting.”

Me: “Why didn’t you go to the mall and watch a movie in the theater?”
Mom or Dad: “My back was hurting.”

While I always assumed there was some level of truth in their response, I figured there was some level of exaggeration. Hell, Brad Pitt is only a year younger than my mom (he’s 53!). It was exasperating, but now I know. And I was wrong.

I am only 31 and by all accounts, I’m a relatively healthy guy. Even though I haven’t worked out much since Maya was born, I was able to do a strenuous 6 mile hike in New Zealand with baby strapped to my back. But Maya is a solidly built chunker (once she becomes mobile, she will thin out and that makes me sad…but that’s for a future post) and I’ve recently developed back pain. It’s not debilitating, but I can feel it and I don’t anticipate it going away anytime soon.

I asked myself, “Why have I developed back pain?” I thought about it and the answer became fairly obvious: I am bending over all the damn time. On a typical full day watching Maya alone, here’s the number of times I bend over:

  • Putting baby down for nap/sleep: 3 times
  • Picking baby up from nap/sleep: 3 times
  • Baby needs to play with a toy while eating and throws it all the time: 4 feedings * 3 bends/feeding = 12 times
  • Putting baby down on mat/walker/jumper to play: at least 5–10 times
  • Picking baby up from mat/walker/jumper: at least 5–10 times
  • Changing baby’s clothes: 2 times
  • Diaper changes: 5 times
  • Bath: 2 (this one’s the biggest doozy of them all)
  • Putting baby in stroller: 1 time
  • Picking baby up from stroller: 1 time
  • Putting baby in car seat: 1 time
  • Removing baby from car seat: 1 time
  • Lugging car seat with baby in it from car to house: 1–2 times
  • Other miscellaneous things I’m probably forgetting: 5 times

Total # of times I bend over in the day: 40–50 times

Bending over 50 times a day doesn’t sound like much. But let me tell you — when you’re doing it while lifting a 20+ pound baby in a completely non-ergonomic manner where most of the load is on your back, it adds up way faster than you’d expect.

You know how you are supposed to lift boxes with your legs? That doesn’t really work for lifting babies. In fact, I can’t think of any ergonomic hacks that could drastically help prevent this problem (but I’m open to suggestions). And no, Ergo Baby carriers aren’t a panacea — they’re helpful when we go out, but it’s not really meant for around the house and they’re not as ergonomic as they claim. Babies are short and operate near the ground. We live in different vertical strata and since I don’t really see that changing anytime soon, this might be one of those unsolvable facts of life we just have to deal with.

I finally copped up and told my mom about my back pain. After giving me the requisite “I told you so,” she suggested the following two exercises:

Cobra:

Howcast

Bird Dog (I don’t think she was referring to a Top Dog hot dog):

LiveStrong

I haven’t incorporated them into a daily routine yet, so can’t yet speak to its effectiveness. In the meantime, I won’t make fun of old people with back pain again. If you have kids, it’s going happen to you at some point and it sucks.


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