Being a parent can often pose a problem to holding your adjustment.
Let me explain.
I have four kids ages six and under. I have run the gamut of walking a fussy baby to sleep to putting a toddler back to sleep in their own small bed. These types of instances typically take place very late at night, in the middle of the night, or very early in the morning. As parents, we are usually half-asleep when we comfort our little ones back to sleep. We are so tired, in fact, that not a whole lot of attention is given to our posture.
When this happens, you can throw holding an adjustment out the window.
Let’s think about it for a moment. When walking a baby back to sleep, it is usually done with the baby held close to our chest as pace back and forth hunched over. When putting a toddler back to sleep in their bed, I have often fallen asleep as well. Many times, I woke up in a very odd, kinked position which did not start my day off on the right foot. I have often seen my wife hold the baby on one of her hips when tired, tilting her pelvis so that one leg is bent and other is long. This in turn tilts the spine, which compensates all the way up to the skull.
Let’s think about what these positions do to us long-term.
When hunched over the baby as you walk him/her asleep, your suboccipital muscles are put under an immense amount of stress. The suboccipital muscles have been shown to have a very dense number of muscle spindle cells and GTOs (Golgi tendon organs). Muscle spindles measure the rate of change in muscle length, monitoring joint position as it relates to the muscle. GTOs measure muscle tension.
Walking hunched over like this can cause a very substantial alteration in the tone of the suboccipital muscles. It can lead to a tightening on one side or both, which often times can be the cause of tension headaches or cervicogenic headaches. A good tip to remember is to keep your chin up while walking the baby to sleep.
What about putting your child back to sleep and ending up in an awkward position yourself? The best position to fall asleep is flat on your back, with a pillow under your cervical spine. If you fall asleep on your side, you don’t want your head to be anything but perpendicular to your shoulders. As Dr. Tanase pointed out here, you don’t want your head tilted up or down when sleeping on your side.
Holding the baby on the hip, which is actually very common to see, is the perfect way to put unnecessary stress or tension on your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. When done often, this can lead to postural alterations that could develop into a number of different chronic pain conditions. A different way to hold your baby is to have the baby basically sitting on one of your forearms while wrapping your other arm around the front of the baby’s chest. This is also a good way for moms to build up some strength in your biceps.
So next time your child wakes you up or keeps you up, try remembering these tips. If you don’t, you might end up walking around like Quasimodo.
About the author: Dr. Brandon Harshe is an Upper Cervical doctor practicing in Commerce, TX. He can be reached through his website, www.theatlasoflife.com.