By Tracey Mallett
We all know how difficult it is to stay in shape and find time to exercise - but most especially for parents with babies or small kids. There’s the sleep-deprivation factor, lack of time and priority changes. So what are the options for busy parents? The fact is, the better you can take care of yourself, the better you will feel, and thus it is more likely you will be physically and emotionally stronger to take on the day with the “little ones” and all the challenges taking care of kids entails.
Below are some quick, but effective, exercises, specifically designed for the busy parent (Mom or Dad) for the back and shoulders to keep you strong. These will also help prevent future injuries that may occur with poor lifting biomechanics and poor posture caused by the heavy weight of not just the baby, but all the fun gadgets you’re expected to lug around. It’s no surprise that our bodies need a little help to get through the day.
Rotator Cuff Strengthener
You can do this exercise either seated or standing. Hold the elbows close to the waist with palms facing the sky holding a Theraband. Pulling the hands away from each other externally rotating the shoulders
3 sets of 10-15 reps
Rotator cuff muscles are the small muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint. If these get weak from over use, you could end up with bicep tendonitis or other potential injuries. This is very common with parents as everything is usually done with one arm while holding the child in the other.
For this workout you will need a light Theraband. The beauty about this piece of equipment is that it’s small enough to carry in your bag or your stroller. Now you have no excuses. You can do these exercises on the go, at the park or when you have a few moments to spare.
Tricep push-up extension
Hands are directly under your shoulders and knees are on the ground in a modified push-up. The pelvis is slightly pressed forward creating work in the abdominals that stabilize the spine. Place the Theraband under the right hand on the floor and extend opposite arm in a tricep extension. While extending the working arm, be careful to keep the wrist in line with the hand not to create any unwanted tension/strain.
This is the one time in your life you are going to need arm strength. The biceps are going to get overworked from the motion of picking up a baby so it’s important to balance these out and keep the triceps strong so you do not put unwanted strain on them.
3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side
Drawing your shoulder blades down activating your upper back muscles, engaging abs at all times. Keeping your abs strong and being aware of contracting them is very important as they play an important role in stabilizing and protecting the back.
Translating this in to functional activities such as picking the baby up out of the crib will really save your back.
Spine extension with pulses
Seated upright with legs in front of body, shoulder-width apart, hands over head. Hinge forward from the hips leading with the sternum, biceps are by your ears. Hold this position and slightly pulse the arms behind the body mobilizing the shoulders and working the upper back. Return back to an upright position to repeat the movement again.
3 sets of 10 Pulses
Upper back and hamstring flexibility.
Over time in pregnancy, our posture completely changes due to the increased weight of the baby bringing our body forward and causing the spine to round forward with the shoulders.
This causes the back muscles to become very stretched out and weak. This exercise will strengthen the mid upper back and open up the tight thoracic area of the spine, correcting bad habits that the body formed through pregnancy.
Butterfly ab curls
Lying on the floor with heels of feet together and knees bent to the side in a frog-like position. Arms are straight over head, circle arms around and lift the head/neck/shoulders off the floor, exhaling, pulling in the abs hold for 5 seconds and return back to starting position.
3 sets of 10 reps
As you exhale and bring the head, neck and shoulders off the floor, think of pulling your abdominals in up and back to the spine. Moms, this is a time you can practice doing your Kegals on the contraction, working the pelvic floor.
Keeping your abs strong is essential for keeping your whole body strong and restoring poor posture left over from pregnancy.
About the author:
Tracey Mallett (www.TraceyMallett.com) is an internationally-recognized certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. She is the author of the forthcoming book “Sexy in 6: Sculpt Your Body with the 6 Minute Quick Blast Workout.” Tracey is the creator and star of the "3-In-1 Pregnancy System," for pre- and post-natal mothers. Her newest videos are "Renew You” and "Super Body BootCamp.” A proud mother of two, Tracey, now lives in Los Angeles.