If you’re a mom with young kids, your posture is probably the last thing on your mind. Between juggling nursing, sleep training or getting your kiddos out the door for school, pausing to think about how you’re doing those activities feels counterproductive. But if you’re experiencing any common postpartum condition, such as ab separation, prolapse, leaking urine, upper or lower back pain, headaches or wrist pain, your posture is probably playing a big role.
What is Mommy Posture?
Mommy posture is a common postpartum issue that typically starts in pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body naturally adjusts to accommodate the growing baby. This typically looks like a rolled forward pelvis and tipped back ribcage. After birth, these changes can stick around and result in prolonged weakness and pain.
When your ribcage is shifted back, your head will naturally come forward so that your eyes are level with the horizon. This leads to a rounding of the upper back and pulled forward shoulders. This positioning can lead to headaches, shoulder pain and weakness in your upper body. It also makes it really hard to engage your core when lifting and carrying your little one.
A forward curve of the upper back also increases downward pressure onto the abdominal organs and pelvic floor. This can exaggerate a diastasis recti, prolapse or urinary incontinence issues.
A rolled forward pelvis makes the belly look extended, inhibits deep core muscles from working and causes excessive curvature in the lower back. Too much of a curve (lumbar lordosis) can lead to pain and injury. A rolled forward pelvis also shifts the hip bones forward and this can cause pinching pain in the groin and the front of the hips. It also makes it hard to engage the glute (buttock) muscles contributing to “Mommy Butt.”
Small Change, Big Impact
The good news is that small adjustments can lead to pretty significant changes.
Having your “blocks stacked” - where the ribcage is positioned directly over the pelvis - will significantly improve your breathing, access to your core and pelvic floor, glute activation and upper body strength! It also decreases pivot points in the spine that can cause pain and injury.
How to fix it
Here are three different ways to adjust your alignment to be more “stacked”:
1. Find Your Ankles
Sounds simple, but it makes a big difference. Without moving your body, peak down. Can you see your front ankle creases? If not, you’re probably hinged back too far. Slowly creep forward until you can see them. The moment you do, stop moving and bring your head back on top of your ribcage. If you look at yourself from a side view in a mirror, you should see that your shoulders are now directly on top of the center of your pelvis.
2. Shift Your Weight
When your ribcage is shifted back, your weight also typically shifts back into your heels. If you notice your weight is not in the center of your foot, push your feet into the ground and lengthen up through the crown of your head. Then slowly shift your weight forward until it’s more evenly distributed through the ball of the foot and arch. Again, a side view in the mirror should show an improved stacked alignment.
3. Thumb Over Finger
Place your thumb in your lower ribs and your pointer finger in your front hip bone. Are they vertically aligned? If your thumb is behind your pointed finger, shift your ribcage forward so that they are stacked.
The Hard Part
Knowing how to fix your posture is the first step. The real grunt work is staying aware throughout the day - and night for those midnight snuggles and feedings. If you need more guidance and accountability in making these changes, join Chelsea’s six-week Foundations challenge here.