Well-being: 10 Tips and Exercises for a Healthier Back
Our team is the heart and soul of our organisation. Your dedication to nurturing the minds of our future generations is truly commendable. However, we also recognise that this noble journey often takes a toll on your physical well-being, particularly when it comes to the issue of back pain.
Understanding the Prevalence of Back Issues among Educators
The demands of our profession, which involve extended periods of standing, sitting, and lifting heavy objects, often put a considerable strain on our backs. In fact, studies show that approximately 80% of Australians will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and educators are no exception.
Tasks like bending down to interact with children, carrying them, and sitting on small chairs can be challenging for our backs. However, with regular exercises adopting the right posture, we can all take steps to ensure our backs remain in good shape. Here are some practical tips and exercises to help you along the way:
Safely Lifting an Infant from the Floor – Kneeling Lunge:
Ensuring the safety of infants while lifting them from the floor is crucial. Try the following approach to lift them safely:
Start in a lunge position by placing one foot next to the child and gradually lowering yourself onto one knee.
Lift the child near your knee on the floor while maintaining a straight back and pushing your buttocks out.
Slide the infant from your knee to mid-thigh while keeping your back straight, then lift them onto the opposite thigh, hugging them close to you.
Prepare for the lift by looking forward, extend your legs while keeping your back straight, and avoid twisting while lifting.
Lifting a Toddler – Squat:
When a toddler needs lifting, avoid bending from your lower back. Instead, follow these steps:
Perform a squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, ensuring your back remains straight and your buttocks are pushed out.
Get as close as possible to the child while securely holding them, tighten your stomach muscles, look forward, and use your thigh muscles to lift yourself up while exhaling.
Teach the child to hold onto your body to assist with the lift rather than leaning away from you.
Get Low, Stay Low:
Repetitive bending and stooping can contribute to back pain when caring for little ones. To minimise strain on your back:
Opt for squatting or kneeling instead of bending over when interacting with children.
When tidying up toys, stay on the floor or maintain a low position rather than repeatedly bending over.
If sitting to play with a young child, consider sitting against a wall or using a piece of furniture for back support.
Remember, achieving perfect posture in everyday activities involving infants and toddlers may not always be feasible. However, by being mindful of how you lift and interact with them, you can significantly reduce stress on your spine and promote a healthier back.
Relief for Your Back – 10 Tips and Exercises
Tip 1: Maintain an upright posture, tighten your upper body, keep your back straight, and tilt your pelvis forward to avoid a hollow back.
Tip 2: Let your shoulders drop to relieve stress.
Tip 3: Practice conscious exhalation to manage stress hormones effectively.
Tip 4: Relax against a wall, pressing your head, shoulders, and buttocks against it while raising your arms to shoulder height.
Tip 5: Relax your neck and shoulders through controlled movements.
Tip 6: Embrace dynamic sitting, which involves sitting with movement. Consider using a ball cushion for support.
Tip 7: Use warm patches, hot pads, hot water bottles, or a warm bath for back pain relief.
Tip 8: Wear comfortable shoes that support your feet and, in turn, your back.
Tip 9: Train your body awareness to identify and improve movement patterns relevant to your work.
Tip 10: Stay active with regular exercise and targeted relaxation and strengthening exercises to break the cycle of tension and pain.
Let’s continue to support one another on this journey of caregiving, ensuring not only the growth and development of our children but also the well-being of our valued educators.