Recently, the Ontario Chiropractic Association launched an excellent pamphlet on pregnancy and back pain. Within this blog, I would like to summarize the information provided and hopefully enlighten those interested on how to assist in alleviating back pain while pregnant.
According to studies, about 90 percent of pregnant women will experienced lower back and/or pelvic pain related to their pregnancy. This is a huge number! There are various reasons for this back/pelvic pain. First off, weight gain during pregnancy places additional stress on the joints in the body and thus causes a cascade of functional changes to muscles and ligaments. Furthermore, as the baby grows, muscles (such as the abdominal and obliques) become stretched and may not be as efficient in providing stability to the pelvis and spine. In order to prevent and help reduce this acquired stress on the joints of the lower back and lower limb, it is important for expectant mothers to perform simple core strengthening exercised. By performing these exercises, expectant mothers will also be reducing the pain experienced in their lower back and pelvis region. Also, the expectant mother will be much more prepared for the physical tasks (lifting, carrying, pushing, etc.) that will occur once baby is born. In the next paragraphs, I will discuss the recommended exercises for expectant mothers. Please ensure that before commencing any exercise program, you consult your health practitioner.
This exercise is very helpful. By performing this exercise daily you will assist in keeping the muscles that hold the lower back (lumbar spine), fit and strong. Start by laying on your back with your spine in a neutral position (neutral means not arching your back or changing the natural position of your back as it rests on the floor). Next, concentrate on contracting your abdominal muscles without “sucking in” the muscles. Tighten your abdominal muscles but DO NOT hollow the abdominal area. You can perform this a couple of times per day. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 3-5 times for 1-3 sets. Ultimately, this exercise will help to improve core stability and protect the spine, thus decreasing painful spells.
2) Pelvic Tilt
This next exercise can be performed in various positions. You can sit, stand, lay on your back or go on al fours….it is your choice. Choose a comfortable position for you. First, bring your pubic bone forward by tucking your buttocks in with a scooping motion. Hold this for 2-3 seconds. Rock the pelvis the opposite direction to arch the lower back and direct the buttocks out. Try to maintain a continuous motion. Repeat this exercise 3-10 times for 3 sets. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.
3) Arm Extension
For the next exercise, you will be required to kneel down onto your hands and knees. Keep your spine neutral, similar to exercise number one. Keep your core contracted (tightened)….don’t forget to breath! Now, extend one arm out in front as much as you can – point your fingers outwards. Make your arm parallel to the floor, while keeping your body stable. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to the starting position and then switch sides.
4) Leg Extension
Remaining on the floor on all fours, extend one leg behind you as much as you can. Stretch your toes out. Keep stable! Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to starting position and switch sides. Repeat this move 3-10 times and work up to 3 sets. Furthermore, you should rest 30-60 second in between sets.
Maintain Good Posture During Pregnancy!
In order to maintain good posture during pregnancy, try to avoid slouching and rolling your shoulder forward. Keep your shoulders “down and back” and your chin slightly tucked.
After the Baby Arrives
When carrying your child, hold them upright, close to your chest. Sit in a chair with back support when feeding your baby and try to avoid leaning forward to reach your child’s mouth. This avoids straining your back. Safely lift your child – have your feet shoulder width apart, keeping your back completely straight and bend your knees. Lift with both arms and your thigh muscles.
These are all excellent tips that expectant mothers should know. There are excellent resources to explore. Thank you for reading this post.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The following information is my personal notes about this subject matter. It is intended for informational purposes only. Consult a health practitioner to help you diagnose and treat injuries of any kind.
Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, HBSc., DC