AJ here, with Stronglife Physiotherapy. Back pain during pregnancy is extremely common and popping Tylenol all day long isn't the answer when it comes to getting relief. In this video i'm going to show you how to prevent back pain during pregnancy and how to get relief from back pain if you already have it!
Lower back pain occurs in up to 80 percent of pregnant women. That's almost all of them! And if you have had back pain before becoming pregnant there is an 85 percent chance that you will have it during your pregnancy. There are multiple causes of lower back pain in pregnant women. One major factor being a growing belly that pulls the spine forward exaggerating the curvature in the lumbar spine which can lead to pain. To counteract the weight of the belly there is a tendency lean back to balance yourself which also exaggerates that lumbar curvature, leading to more pain. Hormonal changes are also likely playing a role in your pain. Relaxin is a hormone that causes the ligaments to become more relaxed or elastic, this allows the pelvis to expand during childbirth, allowing the baby to pass through. The amount of relaxin in your body increases to about 10 times the normal level during pregnancy. This causes the joints to be not quite as stable and can lead to pain, particularly in the pelvis. In fact, what many women think of as low back pain is actually pelvic pain coming from the SI joints.
So how do we prevent the pain or get relief once it has settled in? There are a few simple exercises that can help. These exercises are very safe for you and baby, but if you have any concerns or have a complicated pregnancy, talk to your doctor first. Now I don't have a pregnant lady to demonstrate these, so you'll just have to imagine me as a very large, masculine, pregnant woman.
While laying on your back with your knees bent, tilt your pelvis back causing the small of your back to flatten and press your back down. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
While lying on your back, or sitting down, wrap a belt around your thighs just above the knees and press your legs outward against the belt. Give it a good hard push or as much as your pain will allow. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. This strengthens the muscles around your hips and pelvis allowing them to stabilize more effectively.
Now while lying on your back, or sitting down place a ball or pillow between your knees and squeeze your legs together compressing the ball or pillow. This doesn't need to be an all out effort but give it a good hard squeeze or as much as your pain will allow. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
The last exercise is a pelvic bridge, while lying on your back with your knees bent lift your hips as high as you can. Hold 5 seconds, repeat 10 times. If this is too difficult or painful you can do a glute isometric by wrapping your hands around your knee and pressing your leg down into your hands. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times on each leg. This can also be done in a seated position.
If you are in your second or third trimester You'll want to limit the amount of time spent on you back with these exercises, especially if you get some discomfort or feel light headed. Just roll onto your side for a few minutes or sit up until it passes.
These exercises can be very helpful in preventing and reducing pain during your pregnancy. Physical activity in general, such as a regular walking program, is also very helpful in preventing pain and has many other benefits during pregnancy. If you have access, a pool can be especially helpful in reducing pain and getting some pain free exercise.
Just remember, most back pain goes away soon after delivery and when you're holding that little baby in your arms, it'll all be worth it!
Thanks for watching, make sure to subscribe! Have a great day, and stay strong!
AJ Ludlow is a Doctor of Physical Therapy serving the Provo/Orem area and specializing in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and injuries.