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Pregnancy is thought to be a predisposing factor, which leads to other conditions that can generate discomfort and low back pain during pregnancy in the early stages, due to both mechanical and hormonal factors.
Studies indicate that somewhere between a half and three quarters of pregnant women suffer from back pain during pregnancy, at some point of time. In this article we will detail the causes and some exercises that can prevent and ease back pain during pregnancy.
Causes of back pain during pregnancy
Back pain during pregnancy is typically observed in the area where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint. The most common causes of back pain during pregnancy include:
- Weight Gain
During a healthy pregnancy period, women tend to gain a lot of weight, and it is the spine that has to support that weight. The weight of the growing baby, and uterus exerts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back which causes back pain during pregnancy.
- Posture Changes
Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity. As a result, you may experience back pain due to stretched abdominal muscles that restrict you from maintaining proper alignment.
- Muscle Separation
As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles that run from the rib cage to the pubic bone may separate along the center seam. This separation may worsen back pain.
Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which may be experienced as back pain or back spasms.
You are more likely to experience back pain during pregnancy if you are overweight or if it is not your first pregnancy. Strenuous work, previous low back or pelvic pain, or injury to your pelvis can also cause back pain during pregnancy.
Exercises For Back Pain During Pregnancy
A quick fix can be to use a maternity belt* to support your back and belly, therefore easing back pain during pregnancy. Besides, the support provided by a maternity belt, exercises provide a more long term way of preventing or limiting back pain. Here are 7 effective exercises for back pain during pregnancy that you can easily perform. Again, always ask your doctor for advice before doing any exercises.
- Cardiovascular Exercises
Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, swimming, and biking, are generally safe for pregnant ladies. Cardiovascular workouts increase your heart beat rate for a considerable period, which helps treat the back pain substantially. You can perform the exercises 20 to 45 minutes for three to five days every week. Ensure you perform cardiovascular exercises at a mild to moderate level without subjecting yourself to exhaustion.
- Pelvic Tilts
Pelvic tilts provide you relief from back pain during pregnancy. All you need to do is lie on your back, bend the knees with feet resting on the ground, and get your hands beneath your back. You will feel the space between your back and ground. Now, deflate your lower back against the ground. Pelvic tilt helps relax your buttocks, abdominal muscles and minimizes the back pain.
- Arm & Leg Raises
Arm and leg raises are highly beneficial for your back muscles and buttocks and reduce pain in your back. All you need to do is kneel on your knees and hands keeping your spine straight and perform a pelvic tilt. Then lift your left leg and right arm to make a straight line with your spine. After a pause, lower your arm and leg slowly. Repeat the same exercise with the opposite arm and leg. If you find it bit difficult to perform this exercise for back pain during pregnancy, raise only arm or leg separately.
- Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and treat pain in your back. Sleep on your back and imagine pulling muscles of your vaginal area up and inwards towards your unborn baby. When performing Kegel exercises, you should not feel tightening sensation in thighs, abdomen, and buttocks.
- Back Stretch
Back stretching is extremely beneficial to get rid of back pain. Perform back stretch with your hands and knees. Set your legs wide apart and hands in front of your head. To support your abdomen when performing the exercise, you can place a pillow under you. Finally, sit back on the knees and stretch arm in the forwards to feel the stretch in your spine.
- Chest Stretch
Stand with your back straight and head upright. Now clasp your hands at your back and gently stretch your arms up and down without leaning your neck and shoulders forward. The exercise will stretch your back, shoulders, and arms, and reduce the back pain substantially.
- Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring stretch is one of the effective exercises for back pain during pregnancy, but you need to perform it slowly. Face a chair and step on it with one foot, keeping both feet and hips facing forward. Now straighten your back and try to bend forward gradually and stretch the back of your thigh. (See more pregnant stretches in our previous article).
What to Avoid
Here is a quick list of what to avoid in preventing back pain during pregnancy.
Walking for too long
Sitting on the couch with knees rolled out
Lying on the back
Breast stroke kick when swimming
Pregnancy, for many good reasons, is considered a fragile time of a woman’s life. For you and your growing baby’s health, those symptoms associated with low back pain should not be neglected. If unaddressed, these symptoms can persist during pregnancy and affect the lifestyle and health of the patient postpartum. Therefore it is vital that you understand the underlying issues of low back pain during pregnancy, including appropriate prevention and treatment options.