Moms do heavy lifting and leaning every day. This quick back workout will keep your posture on point to prevent imbalances and pain.
Having kids means lots of repetitive moves (toting, lifting, pushing) that can tweak your alignment. But shoring up your postural muscles—the ones that get the most taxed doing all of the above—is actually pretty simple. You’ll want to do moves and stretches that counteract the imbalances you’ve created. (These 7 dumbbell exercises can also help even things out.) Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates studios in New York City, suggests using a 2-to-1 ratio: “If you’re weak on your left side—maybe it’s the arm or hip you don’t use to carry your kid—do a side plank on your left arm, one on your right, and then left again to even things out.” (The same ratio goes for stretching, only the extra TLC is for your tight, over-taxed side.)
And when you’ve got 10 minutes, do the drills below from Shannon Crumpton, a postnatal fitness specialist in Montgomery, Alabama. (Have 30 minutes? Follow it up with this pilates workout for better posture.) She uses these posture-strengtheners with her mom clients because, she says, “the best defense is a good offense.”
Total Time: up to 15 minutes
1. Hip Bridge
Lie faceup on floor with knees bent and feet flat, arms on floor by sides.
Lift hips, squeezing glutes, so that body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then lower for 2 to 3 seconds. Do 12 to 15 reps.
12 to 15
Scale up: Lift 1 leg as you're in the bridge position.
2. Goblet Squat
Stand with feet wide, toes turned out slightly, arms crossed (fingertips on shoulders) or holding a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell with both hands in front of chest, elbows bent by sides.
Keeping chest lifted, lower into a squat so hip crease is slightly below knees. Hold 1 count and return to start.
12 to 15
Scale up: Hold a heavier dumbbell.
Start on floor in plank on palms, with body balanced between hands and feet. Keep abs tight so that your back is straight. Hold plank for 1 minute.
Scale down: Hold for 30 seconds, rest, and repeat.
4. Bird Dog
Start on all fours on floor. Simultaneously lift right arm forward and left leg behind you. Hold for 1 count, then lower to start position. Switch sides and repeat; that’s 1 rep.
Scale up: Do this move from plank position instead of all fours.
5. Heel-Floor Tap
Lie faceup on floor with arms by sides and knees bent with feet in the air (shins are parallel to floor).
Lower left heel to tap floor, then return to start. Switch sides and repeat; that’s 1 rep.
Scale up: Extend legs straight up and alternately lower heels to floor with straight legs.
6. Seated Spine Twist
Sit on floor with legs extended in front of you. Cross left leg over right, placing left foot on floor outside right knee.
Rotate torso toward left, pressing right upper arm against left knee and reach- ing left arm slightly behind you, palm on floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.