You have probably spent the last several months working through achy hips and a tight lower back during pregnancy, but now you are holding your sweet bundle of joy and feeling a whole new area of tension in your neck and upper back!—This is what we call “the new mom strain.”
Rocking your baby and looking down at their sweet, sleeping face, can cause a pinch in the neck. Breastfeeding can also add a great deal of stress to your body whether it is with a newborn or an older baby. You may find yourself hunched over in a rocking chair, or in bed, with your shoulders rolled forward. Then, there is all the new gear- the car seat and diaper bag to carry around with them! This is a lot of new stress to our upper back and necks.
It is important to take time to heal, and care for yourself. This is true whether you are freshly postpartum or a few years out. The last thing moms need is back, shoulder or neck pain. So in order to take care of yourself, stretching/yoga is a must.
If you are feeling “the new mom strain” of shoulder, neck and/or back pain, give these stretches a try as a means of relief:
Bend your head to the side, ear towards your shoulder, holding for 3 breaths before slowly bending to the other side. Repeat with rotating the head so the nose points to the shoulder. Move slowly through these stretches and do no pull on the neck. Think about lowering the shoulders down and back for added stretch and relaxation.
Eagle Arms: can be done kneeling, seated or standing
Hold your right arm straight out, then cross the left arm under the right and bend the elbows bringing the palms of your hands together. Push your elbows down keeping your palms together. Take a deep breath into your upper back, as you exhale allow your elbows to sink towards your chest. Take a few breaths here, then switch to right arm under left, and repeat.
Vertical—Standing, or sitting on your knees, place your left hand over your head holding the towel behind your back. Take your right arm behind your lower back and grab onto the other end of the towel. Slowly bring your hands closer together. If you can do this without a towel, clasp your hands. Hold for a 3 slow breaths, then switch sides.
Horizontal—Standing or kneeling, hold a towel a little wider than shoulder distance apart (this will depend on how tight your shoulders are). Inhale while bringing your arms above you, then exhale your arms behind you, followed up by inhaling the arms back up and exhaling down to the front. Repeat for 5 rounds. Think about inhaling through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth.
Standing Forward Fold:
Dr. Meaghan S. Brent, DC