- 5 Tips for Low Back Pain in Pregnancy -
First off you don’t have to suffer during pregnancy there is a number of treatments that I can perform to get you out of pain. Pelvic positioning exercises are a key strategy to stop pain in pregnancy.
So, as all pregnant women know already, their bodies go through many changes when they become pregnant. Many women find that as their pregnancy progresses they can start to feel some pain in their lower back (another unwelcome change!). This is because as your pregnancy progresses your bump is getting bigger and your centre of gravity is changing so there is more weight going through your bump causing a change in your posture. Hormonal changes can cause ligaments in the body to become more relaxed, which can also cause back pain.
So we know that our posture changes but how does it change? Well, as the bump gets bigger the abdominal muscles at the front of the tummy become long and weak, which this causes the ribcage to go upwards, the muscles at the back of the legs (hamstrings) also become long and weak, causing the pelvis to tilt forwards, this leads to a larger curve in the lower back causing pain. To counteract this change we can work on one thing, and that is the hamstrings.
Why hamstrings and not stomach muscles? The stomach muscles are elongating constantly throughout the pregnancy to allow the bump to grow and we know it’s very hard to do crunches with a big bump! By getting the hamstrings working we can help to reduce back pain by aiming to tilt the pelvis back again and provide relief for pregnant women.
For some women the pain can become quite intolerable and they may need to seek treatment in order to gain some sort of relief.
Below are 5 tips to help keep lower back pain at bay.
1. Good Posture:
As mentioned already, your centre of gravity shifts forward as your bump grows bigger. Many women compensate this shift forward by leaning back, which can cause strain in the muscles of your lower back and contribute to back pain. Keep these steps of good posture in mind:
• Stand up straight and tall. This gets harder to do as your body changes, but try to keep your bottom tucked in and your shoulders back and relaxed. Working on hamstring strength will help keep your bottom tucked in and pelvis tilted back.
• When you stand, try have your feet hip distance apart for the best support. If you must stand for long periods of time, rest one foot on a low step stool and take time for frequent breaks.
• When seated be sure to choose a chair that supports your back, or place a small pillow behind your lower back. Supporting your feet with a footstool can prevent lumbar pain. Ensure that your bottom is seated at the back of the chair for optimal support. Take frequent breaks from sitting too and ensure that you get up and walk around every hour or so.
2. Sleep on your Side:
Sleep on your side, not your back, while keeping one or both knees bent. Many pregnant women find relief by placing pillows between your bent knees, under your abdomen and behind your back. This provides pregnant women with extra support. When turning over in bed during the night, try to hold the pillow between your knees and move them together in a controlled manner.
3. Comfortable Footwear:
Wear comfortable shoes and ensure your shoes have good arch support. The high heels can be stored away for a while as your bump grows and your balance shifts, high heels will cause your posture to shift even further off centre and increase your chances of stumbling and falling.
Remember heels means hamstrings.
4. Heat & Massage
Applying heat to your lower back can help ease the pain and provide you with some relief. Many pregnant women find heat helpful in soothing lower back pain. This can be applied using heat pads or a hot water bottle. Be sure to cover the pad or bottle with a thin cloth to protect your skin. Having a warm (not hot) bath can also provide soothing relief for lower back pain.
Massage by a trained therapist can provide soothing relief and relaxation from lower back pain. Many pregnant women find a massage helpful for lower back pain in pregnancy.
As discussed in my previous blog, exercise in pregnancy is beneficial for many reasons. Relief of lower back pain is one the benefits ladies!
Whether it’s walking, exercise in the pool/aqua aerobics or pilates keeping your body strong and moving will help. Bedrest for long periods of time is not going to benefit lower back pain unfortunately (no matter how much we want to have a lie down!). Once your Doctor or Midwife says it is safe for you to exercise in pregnancy, many women will find exercising another tool they can use as a way of reducing lower back pain.