A mother-to-be can gain as much as 35-40 pounds of extra weight, as the baby grows inside her. Since the majority of this extra weight is centered around the abdomen, it causes severe pressure on the back of the body, whilst the body fights to maintain its stability. As the body starts to compensate for the changes in a pregnant woman, it can cause a lot of strain on the posture and make the joints less stable. Hormonal changes in the mother, which allow the pelvis to expand to accommodate the baby, also create additional stress on the joints. It is thus warranted that during the gestation period, approximately 80 percent of women experience back pain. But apart from all the reasoning, we are here to present to you a solution – prenatal exercises for back pain that can help you ease the pain and enjoy your pregnancy to the maximum!
While most women can go through the initial mild discomfort that comes with back pain, it is the deliberating pain that comes later, which becomes difficult to handle. Discomforts caused due to standing for long periods are often ignored by pregnant women. What we are here to tell you is how you should handle the back pain, when it gets so bad, that it starts to interfere with everyday life.
We have been told for most of our lives – rest when it hurts, and while we may be tempted to do the same during pregnancy-induced back pains, it can backfire! Although resting may seem like a decent idea when you have a severe backache. But what will fix your problem is doing the exact opposite and stretching. Gentle movements and stretches, help improve spinal function by decreasing muscle spasm and in turn drastically reducing back pain. Not only will stretching help you lower the pain but will also boost your energy levels and contribute to comparatively easier labor, delivery, and postpartum experience.
Let’s Get “The Heart” Pumping!
Exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling, when carried out for a few minutes, elevate and sustain the body’s heart rate for the duration of the activity. Such exercises are cardiovascular in nature and help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system in the human body. The basic cardiovascular activities like the ones mentioned above are safe for pregnant women. So go ahead, pick out your favorite from the lot, and start exercising for at least 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
Point of caution: It is important that you don’t overexert yourself. Practice a mild exercise routine and remember to stop right before you hit exhaustion! As long as you keep it regular, even a 10-minute walk every day will work wonders for that pain.
Show Off “The Strength”!
While muscle strengthening exercises can seem a little over the top for a pregnant woman, we are here to tell you that strengthening exercises when performed in a regulated and controlled manner can actually help decrease both back and abdominal pains. So, grab that yoga matt and get on with strengthening your abdominal and back muscles.
1. For the Abdomen
Pelvic tilts are the way to go if you wish to strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Lie down straight on your back, bend your knees and rest your feet on the mat, such that your knees face upwards towards the ceiling. Try to layout your back completely on the floor, so that there is no space between the lower part of the spine and the floor. Relax the buttocks and focus on the abdominal muscles.
Pelvic tilts are the simplest form of abdominal muscle strengthening exercises that can also be performed standing up or while simply sitting up straight in a chair.
2. Back and Buttock Strength
Basic arm and leg raise, go a long way in not just strengthening the buttock and back muscles, but also help tone the limbs!
To get started, get down on your fours while keeping a straight spine. Now gradually lift your right arm and left leg and stretch them out. After holding this position for a few seconds, alternate with the other sides. If you start to lose balance, try to practice the same with only a single limb lift – raise only the arms alternatively, followed by leg raises separately.
3. Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
As you lie down on the mat, start to relax your buttocks, thighs, and abdomen. Bring your attention to the pelvis and try pulling the vaginal muscles up towards the uterus. Kegels not only strengthen the pelvic floor but also facilitate the delivery process.
4. Strengthening the Abdominal, Buttock, and Thigh Muscles
Wall squats if done right, can be a lot of fun, especially if you have an exercise ball to roll them with!
Stand straight with your back against the wall and your feet at least a feet away from the wall end. Slowly squat towards the floor, with your back completed supported by the wall. Start to reach down, till your knees form a 90-degree angle with the floor. Get back up gradually and repeat the process a few more times, before you start to get tired.
Point of caution: All of the above-mentioned exercises should be performed in 3 to 10-second set intervals, repeated over 10 to 30 times. Remember to inhale as you relax and exhale while you exert. As long as you take up the exercises slowly, they will help to build up muscle strength and relieve pregnancy-induced muscle pain.
Stretch the Pain Away!
Back pain is usually caused by the combined effect of exerted hamstring, chest, and neck muscles. It is thus only fair, that you focus on strengthening these muscles, to relieve yourself of this back pain in pregnancy.
1. Stretching the Back
Sit back on the knees. Place a pillow on your abdomen, to support it and the baby. Now start to stretch your arms forward. This will stretch your back and help relax the muscle spasm.
2. Stretching the Hamstring
You will need a stable chair for this exercise. Stand up facing the chair and place your right foot on the chair. Gradually lean ford towards your foot, while maintaining a straight back.
If your knees start to bend, lower the height of the chair. Repeat with the left leg.
3. Stretching the Chest
Stand straight with your head upright. Pull back your hands and clasp them together, without bending the shoulders. As you stretch your arms upwards, your back and chest muscles will start to relax owing to this stretch.
4. Stretching the Neck
This stretch can be performed either sitting down or standing up. All you need to do is, bring your head forward and tip it to the right side. Reach back your right hand and give your neck a pull. Repeat the same, with the left-hand side. This technique helps isolate and stretch only those neck muscles, which are worn out.
Point of caution: As you decide to pay attention to cardiovascular and strengthening exercises, don’t forget to include stretching in the routine. Keep in mind to warm up before you start to work on your flexibility. For good results, these exercises need to be performed daily with at least 3 reps each. Ensure that you hold a position for at least 20 seconds and don’t bounce while doing so.
You can also read more about prenatal exercises here.
All We Can Say Is…
…that during pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a multitude of changes and these changes can often result in severe back pains. But you don’t have to worry, as you aren’t alone in this boat, and while you may be struggling through the initial problems that come with pregnancy, the end result is going to compensate for it all. So hold on tight and fight the pain away with these simple above mentioned prenatal exercises for back pain.
It is important that you discuss the pregnancy back-pain relief exercise plan with your doctor, to ensure that they are appropriate to practice in your particular condition. Remember to follow through with the precautions and any particular guidelines your health care provider states. You can complement the above list with other physical therapy exercises for low back pain during pregnancy.
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