How Picking Up Your Kids Can Cause Lower Back Pain

Children.  They’re little bundles of joy and we love to pick them up and cuddle or play with them, but who of you parents find that since you have kids, you’ve been experiencing an ache in your lower back?

Why is this?  They’re small, we’re big and surely we’re strong enough to move them around anyway we like?  Why then do some of us get this nagging pain in our lower backs?

Well, part of the problem lies in the fact that they’re small and we’re big, or, rather tall.  When we go to pick these little people up, it means that we have to bend down quite low, close to the ground to reach them.  What this means is that we inevitably need to do one of two things:

  1. Bend our backs
  2. or Bend our knees
poor child lifting technique, lower back pain, lack of lumbar lordosis
“Bending the back when lifting a child from the floor” by CS Body Health cc. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Ah, the old adage I hear you comment.  We know this already! Really?  If so, why are you still getting lower back pain?  Do you really understand what you need to do? (Sign up for my back class for parents)

Most of us don’t like bending our knees when we go down quickly to pick something up off from the ground.  Why is this?  Well, it takes more energy to bend your knees than to bend your back, and all of nature generally likes to take the easy route.

We know, however, that bending our backs to pick up things (such as our children), is not good for us and leads us to develop lower back pain.  Part of the reason that bending your back is bad for you, is because when you bend your back, you lose the curve in your lower back.  You’ll notice that this is a recurring theme in all my posts if you’ve been following them.

The reason why I keep harping on about your spinal curve is that it is very important.  Your spinal curve helps reduce the loading on your spine and thus the compressive and shearing forces on your spinal discs and joints.  When all these forces become too high, you get mechanical failure that leads to lower back pain.  80% of the world’s population will suffer from lower back pain at some point, so this tells you how important it is to sit up and take note, and the note you need to make is: keep your spinal curve intact when you move and sit, and lift things, and especially when you pick up your children from the floor.

Vertebral Column by Unknown and is licenced in the Public Domain
Vertebral Column by Unknown and is licenced in the Public Domain

Ok, ok, so we finally agree that it’s not worth your while to take the easy way and quickly bend your back to to lift your children up from the floor.  Nobody enjoys lower back pain.  But, if you are observant, you’ll find that bending your knees alone won’t help you maintain your spinal curve either.

Let’s try a little experiment: Place your hand in the small of your back and keeping your legs together, bend your knees.

  1. How comfortable is that in your legs?  If you answered not very, you get the gold star.
  2. How far can you go bending your knees, with your legs together, before you find you still have to bend your back to reach the floor?
Spinal curve, bending knees, lower back pain, lifting technique
“Bending your knees while keeping the legs together strains the quadriceps muscles” by CS Body Health cc. All Rights Reserved. 2016

So, if you actually took the time to try this, you’ll find that bending your knees with your legs together really is not very helpful and creates a lot of work while still putting your back at risk of developing lower back pain.

The solution? Open your legs.  Wide.  Much wider than you generally think you need to or even want to.  And then jagger your legs so that one leg is more forwards than the other.  Then, bend your knees.  Can you feel how much easier it is on your legs and your lower back?  And did you notice how much easier it was to reach the floor, while maintaining your lumbar curve?  And did you also notice how much stronger you are in this position compared to all the others we’ve discussed above?

"Bending the knees with the legs wide apart" by CS Body Health cc. All Rights Reserved. 2016
“Bending the knees with the legs wide apart” by CS Body Health cc. All Rights Reserved. 2016
"Good child lifting technique" by CS Body Health cc. All Rights Reserved. 2016
“Good child lifting technique” by CS Body Health cc. All Rights Reserved. 2016


The interesting thing is, if you have lower back pain, you know that your back will only let you lift your child as in the photo above and not with you bending your back.  Maybe we should all take a bit more time to think about our bodies and move to keep ourselves safe, healthy and pain free.


Do you feel you and your friends/family/carers need more help in correcting your postures when moving your children?  Why not create a group booking for my back pain prevention class for parents and carers?

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