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Tips for a Strong, Healthy Back

A strong back is as essential for moms as a good sense of humor. (The lifting! The lugging! The bending! The reaching!) Given that four out of five adults will have a bout of back pain at some point in their lives, its smart to do all you can to take a load off. Some tips, from experts at the Texas Back Institute:

While Wrangling Kids Hold your child close to your body: You'll maintain your center of gravity and prevent your back from swaying.

When Loading Tots into Car Seats, place one foot or knee on the floorboard and shift your weight forward to put less pressure on your lower back.

When Lifting Your Baby out of (or placing her in) the crib, avoid hunching over the side. Lower the rail, stagger your feet to distribute your weight, and bend at your hips.

While Working Out:

Make these moves part of your routine:
Ab squeezes Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, arms at your sides. Pull in your lower belly, as if to zip up a pair of snug jeans. Count to ten and release. Do five to ten reps.

Pretzel pulls On your back, put your right ankle on your left knee. With both hands, reach behind your left thigh and gently pull it toward your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat once or twice, then switch sides.

Press-ups Lie facedown on the floor, legs extended behind you. Place your palms by your shoulders and slowly straighten your arms, pressing your upper body up as far as you comfortably can without letting your hips come off the floor. Lower and repeat ten times.

Leg raises While still facedown, put a rolled-up towel under your forehead to keep your neck in line with your spine. Relax your arms by your sides. Slowly lift your right leg off the floor as high as you can, keeping it straight and not allowing your hips to come up off the floor. Then lower and repeat with the left leg. Thats one repetition. Do two sets of 5 to 15 reps.