Pregnancy back pain and what you can do to help!
Written by Gina Barlow – Bump to Beyond
Stand up straight! How many of us have heard this in our lifetime?
My mum still says this to me!
But is she right? I guess I understand a little more about her reminders about posture…
I didn’t take advice early in my life about posture, and have since then had to spend a lot of time correcting my own posture – especially after pregnancy and the massive impact that had on my back!
But what do we mean by posture? And how is this effected during pregnancy?
Let’s talk about Posture
The simple definition of posture is:
“the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting”
Seems pretty simple and logical.
But what is ‘proper posture’?
The Cleveland Clinic defines correct posture as being when:
“bones and joints are in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly “ and that “correct posture; helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces, Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together, Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions and prevents backache and muscular pain.” (1)
What this definition does not say however is just to stand up straight (sorry mum!).
In fact, what you will more often hear about is the importance of maintaining a “neutral spine” owing to the natural curves present at different sections of the spine:
“The result is a spine that has a mild S shape. The ideal position.” (2).
Strong Mama training (3), gives a good example of how to do a quick posture test via the following link:
So what happens with posture during pregnancy?
If you are pregnant, and on your feet for a little while, how many of you give big sighing breath out, hands on your hips and let the weight of your baby just hang out forwards whilst keeping your palms nestled in your lower back? Hell, I do that after a big meal let alone when carrying a baby!
If not this, then how many ladies, as your breasts get bigger and heavier as pregnancy continues, end up finishing the day stooping with your shoulder slumped forward and pain in her neck and shoulders?
Also, let’s not forget, that with a growing baby, your centre of gravity changes and as a result the position you hold yourself in may alter along with this.
So what is the impact of this on your back?
As mentioned, the ideal position for your spine would be the neutral mild S shape that results in correct alignment for bearing any weight you would carry or lift.
However in the examples above, you can see how in pregnancy, there is an additional load and subsequent stress placed on your back when it is not in a correct alignment either by adopting either an exaggerated S shape when “your curve arches too far inward” (4) (the lordotic position described in the video) or the more tucked under / rounded back position that can result from arching forwards with additional load.
Either way, this pressure on a spine not in alignment can cause pain and is very common during pregnancy.
So what can be done to help?
If you have a diagnosed spinal condition such as Lordosis or Kyphosis, it is vital to seek the appropriate healthcare professional guidance in relation to postural correction and pain, however, there are many simple ways that you can prevent or reduce poor posture during pregnancy.
Follow my 3 simple steps and see if this helps you.
1) Incorporate abdominal muscle exercise into your day
Note – This does NOT mean starting to frantically do sit-ups!
In pregnancy, it is vital to work on deep stabilising muscles that help to support your spine. Consider static abdominal contractions as a start, focusing on deep breathing and control.
2) Pelvic tilts!
These are a simple exercise you can do, sitting, standing or laying down – depending on your stage in pregnancy. These small movements each day can build awareness around the position of your pelvis and help to counteract any excessive forward or backwards tilts.
3) Keep moving.
Pregnancy can be exhausting for a whole host of reasons. You do not need to suddenly undertake a full exercise program, just consider getting up out of your chair during the day at work, particularly if office based and take a short walk.
If you are exercising and lifting weights, focus on posture at all times, keep weights lower to allow you to perform the best movement you can.
If you are pregnant and experiencing back pain, consult with your individual health practitioners prior to undertaking any form of exercise to ensure it is safe to do so.
(3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVCRV2ZvYuE – Strong Mama Training.