I started out wanting to write this blog around tips for new parents on how to hold and carry their baby. Having recently become a dad myself, I thought I would put my experiences to good use and pass on what I have learned. As I started to think back about the past year with my daughter, I realised it isn’t just about how you hold your baby (there are millions of ways, including the football carry which is one my favourites – check out this funny dad who has named 11 different ways to carry your baby!). Looking after yourself when you’re a new parent is really about knowing how to bend. When you think about it, it’s amazing how many times you have to bend once you have a baby: bending to pick her up from the floor, bending to get her in and out of her cot, bending to pick up the pram and put it in the car… It could literally be hundreds of bends every week! In my experience as a physio and a dad, I’ve seen lots of new mums and dads end up with sore backs, and I reckon it’s from all the bending. If I was going to train an athlete to do any movement 100 times a day, I would have to spend weeks getting their technique right and then months building strength and endurance to cope with the load. But how many soon-to-be parents get fit before they have their baby? So to learn how to bend you need to first learn how to hinge at the hips. The biggest muscle in your body is your gluteus maximus, so if you are going to lift why not use it, instead of the smaller muscles in your back? The aim is to keep your back straight and bend at the hips, sticking your bum back as if you are going to sit in a chair. A good way to practice this is to use a broom stick. Hold it along your back and aim to keep your spine in contact with the stick at three points – the back of your head, your upper back (the rounded part) and your sacrum (the back of your pelvis). The picture gives you an idea of what it should look like. The more you practice this simple hinge the easier it will get. Use it when you are bending to load the pram into your car, or as you bend to do the washing – every time you bend really! It may take a bit of thought at first, but if you practice it will eventually become automatic and your back will thank you for it. So now you know the basics of how to bend. If you are planning on becoming a parent soon, you better get practicing. You’ll be doing it lots! My final recommendation is: get yourself as strong and fit as you can before you have the baby (cos it’s too hard once they’re born!). If you’re already dealing with a sore back from lots of baby and bending time (or any other injury) – book in with one of our physios. If you haven’t hurt yourself, but would like to learn more about how to move right and get fit – book in with one of our exercise physiologists.