5 Ways to Fix Mom Posture

5 ways to fix “Mom Posture”

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About Alysa Bajenaru

Alysa is a freelance writer and dietitian who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two kids - unless, of course, it's baseball season; then, they could be anywhere. You can follow her on Twitter and at her blog Inspired RD.

I am not sure when it all started, but somewhere between the years of hunching over a breastfeeding baby, carrying a toddler around in my arms, and tapping away at a keyboard, I developed what I like to call “Mom Posture.”

My children were literally becoming a pain in the neck.

Although it was painful, I didn’t realize how bad it had become until my husband and I were trying to pick me out of a photo on Instagram.  In a dimly lit field with about 30-40 people, he saw my figure right away.  “You’re the one with the Mom Posture.”  He was right.  Slumped shoulders, forward head, tailbone tucked under.  Yikes.

Vanity aside, I realized my posture was giving me headaches, neck and back pain, and most likely sapping my energy.  My hunch (pun intended) is that you feel this way too.

I would love to share some exercises with you that have helped me stand up straighter and live with less pain.  I can’t promise the headaches will go away because you know, THE KIDS, but I can guarantee some relief from physical tension and a boost in energy.

The most important things to focus on are stretching out those tight and short muscles in the front of your body, strengthening the muscles in the back, and bringing the whole body back to a straight line.

Give these exercises a try, and let me know how you feel!

Hip Flexor Stretch - 5 Ways to Fix Mom Posture

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Remember that pelvic tilt I mentioned?  This stretch helps with that.

• From a kneeling position, bring left leg out front with foot flat on the ground. Push body forward through the hips, stretching that right hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, then bring right arm straight up, slightly twisting body to the right and leaning to the left to go further into the stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds then repeat process on opposite side.

Door Chest Stretch - 5 Ways to Fix Mom Posture

Doorway Chest Stretch

This is an easy stretch you can work on a few times a day to open up your chest and bring the shoulders back to where they should be.

• Standing in a doorway, place hands on either side of the doorway at chest level. Take one step forward and allow the chest to stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Shoulder Packing - 5 Ways to Fix Mom Posture

Shoulder Packing

Once you’ve opened up your chest, you want to help keep your shoulders back by strengthening those back muscles.

• Standing with feet hip-width apart and bellybutton pulled towards your spine, place your arms by your side and look straight ahead.  Exhale and pull the shoulder blades down and back, squeezing them together.  Without letting your lower back arch OR allowing your head to go forward, hold the shoulder blades together for 5 seconds.  Release and repeat.

Tip: If you have access to a stability ball, you can also try these YTW exercises.

Upper Back Foam Roll - 5 Ways to Fix Mom Posture

Using a Foam Roller

When I teach about fitness, I try to incorporate as many exercises as possible that don’t require equipment.  With that said, I think it’s completely worth it to buy a foam roller.  You can order one online or find them at any sports store (or even Target).  Foam rolling helps release tension, break up pesky knots, and keep you flexible.

Foam Roller: Upper & Middle Back

• Lie face up with foam roller under your upper back and feet flat on the floor. Roll from the top of your back to the middle of your back in small movements with your hips elevated off the floor. If you find a spot that is particularly painful, hold for 30 seconds before moving on. Be sure not to roll your lower back as this could cause injury.

Chest Stretch Foam Roll - 5 Ways to Fix Mom Posture

Foam Roller: Chest Stretch

• Sit on one end of the roller and then lay back. Your head should be resting on the roller and your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.  Drop arms out to the side and let gravity stretch the muscles of your chest and shoulders.  Hold for one minute.

Repeat any and all of these exercises once a day to bring yourself back up to center.

Posture check!  Where are your shoulders and head right now?  Are you suffering from Mom Posture too?

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Comments

  1. Oh man! So guilty of bad posture! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Thankfully under normal circumstances my posture is very, very good. It’s probably the one thing most commented on with regard to my appearance…

    Except when I’m pregnant. Then it all goes to hell. Bah! I look like I swallowed a soccer ball right now but come December I’m going to be doing ALL these exercises to get it back together. Thanks!

    • avatar
      Alysa Bajenaru says:

      Well I’d say carrying around a soccer ball tummy is a pretty good excuse :) Sounds like you’re doing great the rest of the time!

  3. I woke up this morning with my back sore from eight month old plus old injury plus mom posture and was wondering how to work on it. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. I call it the “notre-dame hunch” but mom posture sounds much better. I’ve been noticing this for a very long time now and my former ballet-dancing self needs to change it. Thanks for the tips!!!

  5. I know exactly what you mean! These exercises are great. For me too, I work on being mindful. I “check in” with myself through the day to make sure a) I’m not tucking my butt under and b) I ramp my head back over my shoulders where it’s supposed to be.

    A wonderful resource in this area is Katy Bowman’s site: http://www.katysays.com and http://www.alignedandwell.com. I name drop her site everywhere because it’s sooo wonderful. Made a huge difference in my last pregnancy. NO pain as long as I did my little exercises.

  6. Oh man I think my comment went to the spam folder because I mentioned a website! It has been sooo helpful to me and I’m not affiliated with it other than loving the info there. Just google “katy says” or “aligned and well” to find it. ;) You want to locate Katy Bowman’s blog.

    I check in with my body throughout the day to make sure I’m not tucking my butt under. I also put my head back where it’s supposed to be: over my shoulders. LOL

  7. I’ve had Mom Posture plus Self-conscious-tall-girl posture plus Hugemongous-backpack wearer posture. I was a mess! For the past 2 years I’ve been doing a weekly Pilates class with an amazing instructor and now I’m pain-free and so strong! Highly highly recommended.

    Love the foam roller. Definitely worth the investment. Great post, Alysa!

    • avatar
      Alysa Bajenaru says:

      YES!!! I am sure my forward-headedness started with my ginormous backpack. Glad the pilates is helping you, I need to get back into yoga…get myself stretched out!

  8. I just wanted to say I went to the chiro last year to work over my shoulders–I thought my issues were caused by all the time I spent at my computer. Writer problems, you know?

    But he quickly pointed out that all my problems were on my left side. “I can tell you have kids,” he said. “Either that, or you carry around a thirty-pound purse on your left side.”

    So basically, I’ve had a child on my hip for ten years and it did NOT do good things for my alignment and posture (and neck pain, ugh). The exercises he prescribed were a lot like these. Thanks for the reminder to actually DO them. :)

    • avatar
      Alysa Bajenaru says:

      Very true! I remember going to my chiro when I was pregnant, and he told me to practice carrying around a 10 lb. bag of sugar to see what it would feel like. My hips have had alignment issues for sure.

  9. I’m not a chiropractor, but I saw one for the 1st time when I was pregnant with my first, 10 years ago. My babies had had better chiro maintenance than I have, but I have always “carried my stress”in my neck and shoulders.
    As my “pregnancy sciatica” seemed to be getting chronic and more painful, and my youngest was 6 years old. So my new chiro did xrays of the neck and spine. My neck curce was the worst issue of all, and he was shocked that I didn’t have the headaches you describe. After having migraines my entire life starting at age 12, they actually had subsided after pregnancy. Subluxation, compression on the nerves can be permanent if not correct.
    These are perfect exercises, and exactly what he prescribes, but nothing can take the place of seeing the neck and spine. After 6 treatments, I am pain free, but I have more work to do to correct and maintain this over the long run. Moms need to take care of themselves, we have important work to do!

    • so sorry for those blasted typos….
      …babies HAVE had…
      …neck CURVE….
      …if not CORRECTED
      …seeing the neck and spine VIA X-RAY…

    • avatar
      Alysa Bajenaru says:

      It’s true! I go to a great chiropractor who helps tackle the issues that stretching and strengthening can’t get to.

    • Love your last sentence! Thank you (both) for the reminders to not always put myself last.

    • You can also go to a massage therapist… And pregnant sciatica is actually your piriformis that is causing the problem… Most people think it’s their sciatica but it’s actually called piriformis syndrome…

  10. I’ve had a lot of back and neck problems over the last two years. I’m going to give these exercises a try! I know I have horrible posture.

  11. If you can’t run right out to the store for a foam roller- use a pool noodle! It will do until you can buy one.

  12. I’ve been noticing my “mom posture” in photos lately! I can tell that when I’m regularly doing Pilates or intentional stretching, it’s much better. But having fallen out of the habit, my shoulders are always hunch forward.

    Thanks for the–easy!–tips.

  13. Please check out Esther Gokhale’s site. She is absolutely amazing, and has all kinds of free stuff on her site, including videos. So many people have been helped, not only with “mom posture” but serious back pain issues!

  14. Love my foam roller!

  15. I don’t think I’m terribly bad with my posture, but I do notice when I’m slumped and have to straighten out my back. Even though it feels “easy” to slump, in the long-term it hurts more! My daily goal today will be to check myself and my posture :)

    • avatar
      Alysa Bajenaru says:

      Try checking when you walk in front of a mirror or window. Sometimes that’s when I catch myself not standing tall!

  16. Thanks for these tips, they look really good and thoroughly achievable. The foam roller looks like such a great idea!

    After years (pre-motherhood) of blithely thinking that my posture was just fine, I have recently come to the realisation that pregnancy, motherhood, a spot of depression and serious self-doubt for a few years, and a complex about my bust size, had seriously taken their toll on my posture. I have chronic low back pain, and a knee that is misaligned due to poor posture (yep, it can cause knee problems too – who knew?) But it’s all sortable, and I’m working with a great physiotherapist who really knows her stuff and has given me the simplest of exercises to do to put the knee right. I also do karate which is amazing for improving posture. I just wish I’d been more aware of my ‘mom posture’ sooner – my son is now 10 years old – so I could have done something about it then. Great posture not only means better health, it’s also such a confidence booster, and I think totally changes the way people regard you.

    • The foam roller is great. We have one of those official fancy ones. But turns out, a PVC pipe wrapped in towels works just as well, if not better. (My husband prefers it because it’s hard enough to get his tough spots since he has “dad posture”.)

      With the foam roller (or my 7-year old if she’s closer, ha), I do myofascial tissue release every night and morning and find that it makes a big difference in my posture throughout the day.

    • avatar
      Alysa Bajenaru says:

      It’s true, good posture is an instant confidence booster!

  17. I never coined my condition. But, yes, it’s totally “mom posture”.

  18. What a great topic! I have supraspinatous tendonitis from mom (and student) posture! I do my own variation of these exercises, but I didn’t realize to hold my butt up while rolling out my thoracic spine on the foam roller. Thanks for the tip!

    Had I done these regularly, I probably wouldn’t have tendonitis. Even if one has good posture, they serve as prevention, too!

  19. m.a.g.n.i.f.i.c.e.n.t

    THANK YOU (:

  20. My husband recently commented that my shoulders hunch forward. I have to admit I was slightly offended he never said anything to me sooner. But, I’m glad he did…ever since then, I’ve become aware of it and try to correct my posture when I’m standing or even just sitting in the car. I will definitely try these exercises. Thanks for posting this. I’m glad I’m not the only one with “mom posture”. (I’m sure carrying my 2 year old on my hip hasn’t helped ;)

  21. These look perfect! I am going to get myself a foam roller. Thanks Alysa!

  22. I’ve had a problem with hunching forward and incorrect posture since I was a teen. A few years a I started Pilates and Yoga, which has helped me a lot! I’m more aware of my posture and correct myself when I’m not standing or sitting correctly.

    Those foam rollers I have seen popping up in various fitness/health magazines, but never thought they were that interesting, until now. Can’t wait to try those exercises, thanks a lot!

  23. Wow, so helpful, thanks so much! Must try these soon. I know my “mom posture” has a lot to do with my diastasis recti, which is also very common for moms. A weak core certainly invites bad posture! The foam roller looks very interesting, but I live overseas and doubt I’ll find one here – what are good substitutes? A rolled up foam mat?

  24. These tips are fantastic, Alysa. I will definitely be pretty them into practice, as I totally suffer from “mom posture” and mom fatigue/backache/sore neck, etc! Many thanks.

  25. I absolutely love this post. As moms we have to be intentional about caring for our bodies and it’s so easy to forget about posture and how it affects everything! Thanks for the reminder and for demonstrating practical tips!

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