A new mom recently had her first baby four months ago and has developed upper back and neck pain that has progressively gotten worse. What does she do?
With pregnancy there’s a lot going on. Biomechanically, some things are changing. Inactivity is an issue. It’s a difficult process from what I can assume from what my wife tells me and some of my patients.
Through post-delivery I’ve noticed these women are unable to do things that they were able to do prior to having a child. They develop neck and upper back pains with a lot of feeding and holding the child. The car seats are really heavy and so are diaper bags that they bring in. So the first thing that is paramount it to just start moving again within reason.
There are those moms with schedules and who work and taking care of the child. It’s important to facilitate or initiate an exercise routine again. Start doing something – maybe cardio. I don’t recommend advanced core work and weight lifting. It’s important to start moving again we start to develop imbalances and compensations.
For instance, with this mom has upper back and neck problems and is tight in her upper trapezius and her upper back because some of those stabilizing structures and muscles that provide the umph are just not working as they were in the past. She gets real tight up top and has kind of a cascading effect and weakness. We want to address some of those stability issues – figure out where some of those muscles are tight and restrictive and see if we can work on stretching and improve mobility up there. But fundamentally going back to her neck and finding out what muscles are weak and so forth. Turning those things on and retraining them from a rehab standpoint.
But you don’t want to start too soon. Obviously, with cesarean sections and surgical procedures, we want to listen to what your physician recommends related to exercise. But typically, women who exercise throughout their pregnancy – it’s going to be good for you and your baby and you are going to bounce back quicker after childbirth.
I recommend to a lot of women that once they feel up to it – two to three weeks after, get back doing some things. Simple things like walking or swimming or some cardio work, getting out and walking taking the baby around the block. Those are good types of things to do. But I always come back to this, it’s really important to go back to your OB on what exactly are my limitations? Do I have any restrictions? What should I or should not be doing?
There are some really basic things that we need to work on because you haven’t really used these muscles in a long time they’ve atrophied. A lot of women will go back in the gym and start trying to do sit ups and crunches and the advanced core or abdominal type exercises and it doesn’t work and sadly they can injure themselves.