Did that title paint a pretty picture? Moms/Dads, does it sound familiar? Being a mom of three, the youngest just shy of 3 months, I’ve had my time as the hunchback of stroller-dame. I’m enjoying a stroll with my baby on a beautiful day when I pass by a window front and catch a glimpse of my reflection – shoulders rounded, chest caved in, upper back curved – I immediately become the sergeant and straighten up like a soldier! As I straighten up I realize how much tension has released in my upper back and neck and how more easily I’m able to breathe, like I can actually fill my lungs to capacity! What a reality check to the testament of “good posture”.
So what is good posture? Think of it as a sensation, a feeling of wellness that comes when you know the difference between moving around with tension and moving freely without it – this happens when joints are in optimal alignment. Now when it comes to “the stroller hunch”, a myriad of factors come into play. Moms/Dads, you know what I’m talking about, sleep deprivation, too much caffeine, not enough caffeine, little toddlers running around that you must keep fed and alive as well, etc., etc. This leads to exhaustion which leads to lack of awareness and the body collapses onto itself falling into a comfort posture. In addition, the stroller itself must be considered, is it a good fit? Not just for the baby but for your body and height as well, that’s a whole other topic, I will focus on optimal body mechanics while strolling around.
My first suggestion to reverse “the stroller hunch”, get familiar with where you feel the tension and adjust your body to find what’s optimum posture for you. To make it more neat and concise I’ve written a few checkpoints to pay attention to;
- Check one, tuck your chin back. When I say this to people they usually tuck their chin in, so that it’s closer to their chest, instead think about bringing your chin back towards your ears.
- Ideally, place your hands so that your palms are facing each other-this might mean grabbing the stroller handle on far left and right ends-this alignment travels up your wrist and places the shoulder joint in a neutral position.
- Next, sternum high, puff your chest out like a proud bird (to paint a visual). This is easily done by contracting your mid back muscles (specifically, the rhomboids). These are the muscles between the scapulae (the triangular shaped bones on our upper backs). The best cue I can give is; imagine an orange in between your scapulae and squeeze.
- Did you know, we have a natural corset in our bodies? It’s called the transverse abdominis-the inner most abdominal muscle. To engage it, pull in your navel by contracting your abs.
- Finally, be mindful of your lower back. An overly arched lower back will cause pain because it throws your kinetic chain out of alignment. Perform a few pelvic tilts while standing to find a neutral position for your pelvis and low back – your tailbone should be slightly tucked and abdominals contracted. A hyper arched lower back may also mean your hip flexors (they travel from your lower spine to your upper medial thigh bone) may be weak and hypertonic and your glutes and core need more strengthening.
I know the above is a lot to keep track of, choose one thing to focus on and once that becomes second nature, add another. Be kind to yourself and get a massage to help relief some tension. Contact me for a personalized program to address tight, weak muscles. I offer virtual training to make reaching your fitness goals attainable and convenient.
I hope that this has been insightful! Below are two reference clips, one with “the stroller hunch”, the other with a more optimal posture.
Stand Tall, Breathe Deep!