by Raechel Haller, Massage Sci LLC (Mommy Massage Club)
I make it a habit to always ask my massage clients who come in with sore muscles what they do during the day. Their jobs or hobbies can shed helpful light onto why they may be experiencing certain aches and pains.
A response I’ve heard countless times is: “Oh, I’m just a stay at home mom.” To which I reply, “Moms are never ‘just’ moms.”
Moms often perform stressful and complex repeat muscle movements on a daily basis. And that can really take a toll over time. Below is a few common scenarios of how moms can strain their muscles, and at the end some easy care tips.
ONE, TWO, BUCKLE MY SHOE
Have you ever sat at the kiddy table for a long coloring session only to find when you stood back up you were greeted with a killer charlie horse?
Playing with or helping little tykes often involves getting down at their level. This involves asking some of our long muscles to remain in a shortened position for the duration. And when we’re in that position often enough, muscles may actually adapt and shorten further, reducing the range and functionality you may have been used to.
THREE, FOUR, OPEN THE DOOR
Have you ever found yourself carrying a heavy diaper bag, kid on the opposite hip, free arm opening the front door, and a foot shooing the dog back inside?
Through a wide variety of scenarios, moms are often balancing weight with athletic precision. This involves using our large “power” muscles in the legs and hips to lift, while also engaging smaller stabilizing muscles to keep it all together. If the balance act comes tumbling down, we can easily strain or injure ourselves. And even when busy moms manage to keep everything juggled, repeating such feats day in and day out is straining and requires care to prevent long-term harm.
FIVE, SIX PICK UP STICKS
Have you picked up the same dozen toys more times than you can count, and one day you experienced that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back?
Very often when we “throw our backs out,” there’s no singular event, but rather a gradual lead up from repeat actions. Our muscles offer a variety of options when it comes to complex movements like bending down, which is wonderful, but with so many options, we also have “bad” options too choose from as well.
SEVEN, EIGHT, LAY THEM STRAIGHT
So what to do? Busy moms are busy. But still, they need to take time for themselves. Take time to care for your body that in turn does so much to care for your family. Here’s a few simple tips:
- Long Hot Bath/Shower. Changes are you might already know this one, but here’s why heat can simply do wonders for muscles. It’s soothing, but more so, it dilates the blood vessels. To use a simple metaphor, heat turns what would normally be a two lane road, into a four lane highway. More blood flow means more nutrients and oxygen in, and more metabolic wastes out. An electric heating pad or microwaveable beanie also works great.
- Change Up the Movement. If you find yourself repeating the same movements, try to be intentional about doing some opposite, or different ones. Teach your body to be flexible, to be prepared to do many different types of moment well. Do you do a lot of cardio from running after twin toddlers all day? Mix it up with a slower, more controlled movement like yoga. Do you find yourself lifting weight often? Mix it up with some flexibility and elongation movements like in pilates.
- Expand Your Toolkit. Sometimes we can’t just stop the world for a long hot bath, or attend a yoga class. For the days when you just need to get through and your muscles ache, have a few things on standby to help. Products that contain menthol are affordable and easy to get at the local drug store. Menthol provides a “distraction” by sending cold signals to the brain, this can override pain signals. Capsaicin, found in many “hot” brands, works similarly, but sends a hot signal instead of cold. Foam rollers, theracanes, and tennis balls are another handy tools one can use to work out a tense muscle area.
- Make Time to Relax. Sometimes all we need is some rest and relaxation. Scheduling a massage, practicing mindful meditation, or simply curling up with tea and a book can do the mind and body a lot of good.
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Raechel Haller is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Massage Sci LLC, which specializes in effective therapeutic massage. To learn more, visit http://www.massagesci.com.
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