Back Pain During Pregnancy
Back Pain During Pregnancy
The good news is your baby is growing! Thats exactly what should be happening although all this additional weight can often be tough on your body and in particular on the back.
Don’t worry you are not alone, lots of women will experience some degree of back pain during pregnancy, usually rearing its head in the 2nd trimester.
So what are the causes of back pain?
Pregnancy back pain typically happens where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint.
There are lots of contributing factors to this. Here are some of the most likely causes
- Weight gain . During a healthy pregnancy, women typically gain between 25 and 35 pounds. The spine has to support this additional weight which is predominatly distributed to the front of the body. The weight of your growing baby and uterus also puts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back. Both of these factors are a key contributing factor to lower back pain.
- Posture and body alignment changes. Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity. As a result, you may gradually – even without noticing — begin to adjust your posture and the way you move. We often, by default end up standing with our feet turned out slightly and the pelvis forward (infront of the legs). This can create tighteness in the muscles in the front of your pelvis and lower back, weakness in your glute muscles therefore placing additional pressure on the lower back.
- Hormonal changes. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin which allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become ‘looser’ in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
- Muscle separation. As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles (the rectal abdominis muscles), which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the center seam. This separation can sometimes act to worsen back pain as the abdominal muscles no longer have the strength or stability to manage intra abdominal pressure.
- Stress . Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which may be felt as back pain or back spasms. You may find that you experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy or if you have any feelings of worry or anxiety.
- Moving less – Sometimes during pregnancy many women may not be as active or mobile as they were pre pregnancy. This may be due to extreme sickness, fatigue or simply for fear of doing the things they once loved like exercising as they are unsure whether it is safe. Moving less or being more sedentary can lower blood flow to the muscles and can reduce overall muscle strength particualrly if before pregnancy you were fairly active. This can be a contributing factor to back pain.
The good news is most back pain exoerienced during pregnancy is treatable
- Exercise – Exercise has been shown to have remarkable results in helping to alleviate lower back pain. I have found with many of my own clients that mindful movement has been hugely helpful. Exercise will help to prevent excessive weight gain, improve posture, muscular strength, balance, blood flow and endurance. Movements to incorporate strengthening the posterior chain of the body (glutes – bum, legs, and back) and also the core are the most effective in helping to get rid of lower back pain. These are the muscles that work to keep us upright and fighting against the forces of gravity and promote good posture.
Don’t forget that you have lots of relaxin floating around in the body so focus on slow and controlled movements rather than anything fast or dynamic.
What else can you do?
- Improve your posture/body alignment – spending too long sitting or slouching can create extra pressue or strain on our spine. Try to shift your body aligment where possible so that your pelvis is aligned over the heals particularly if standing for a long period of time or when under any load – even if thats carrying a toddler. Try to improve your posture. Things like sleeping on your side with a pillow between the knees will take stress off your back. When sitting at a desk, place a rolled-up towel behind your back for support; rest your feet on a stack of books or stool and sit up straight, with your shoulders back. Try to avoid wearing high heel shoes. If you need to pick something up from the ground use your legs to squat rather than hunching over through the back.
- Take some time to relax – try alleviate any feelings of worry or anxiety, find someone to talk to about your worries or concerns, take some time to meditate or try some prenatal yoga. Hypnobirthing can also be a great tool to help prepare you for labour and definately helped me during the labour of my 2nd daughter.
- Get a pre natal massage – sometimes this can help to get rid of those little niggles and areas of tightness
If the pain persists, increases in intensity or becomes unbearable it is definately worth seeking medical advice in order to rule out any medical conditions.
If your pain is relatively low and you would like some more information on how training during pregnancy might be able to help you please drop me a message @ firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you
Coach Torz x
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