Drop-slide cribs with a detaching side rail can no longer be sold, according to new rules announced today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. That means parents will have to routinely bend over the side rail to lift little Johnny or Suzie into and out of bed.
While there's good reason for the new rule — drop-slide cribs present a suffocation and strangulation hazard — the change may take a toll on parents' backs. Constantly bending over puts pressure on the disks between your vertebrae, and puts you at risk for back problems, said Dr. Jose Mena, an assistant professor in the department of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Here are five tips for parents to prevent back injury:
Keep your core strong: Your core muscles, which include muscles in your trunk and pelvis, help support your back. People with weak core muscles are more prone to developing back injuries, Mena said.
Exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles, muscles on your sides, pelvis and even your diaphragm (through aerobic activity) will strengthen your core, Mena said. To make sure you are exercising these muscles properly, it's best to perform exercises under supervision or with the help of an instructional video, said Joseph Griseta, a senior physical therapist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Hold baby close to you: When lifting something heavy, in this case, a child, you want to keep him or her as close to you as possible, Mena said. Holding the little one at an arm's length puts a greater load on your back, he said.
Face the crib: Keep your body parallel to, or evenly facing, the crib, said Dr. Howard Luks, an orthopedic surgeon at Westchester Medical Center in New York. The more you contort or twist your body as you lift, the more risk you have for lower back injury, Luks said.
Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity puts you at greater risk for back injury. That's because extra weight around your belly shifts your center of gravity and puts more stress on your spine, Mena said. Keeping a healthy weight will reduce this strain.
Stay flexible and healthy: General flexibility and a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of back injury, Griseta said. The better your general health, the easier it will be for you to rebound from a lower back injury, should you sustain one, he said.
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