Low Back Pain During Pregnancy
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
It is estimated that 65 to 70% of women will experience some form of low back or pelvic pain during pregnancy. For most, pain usually starts in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy as the baby grows. However, some women can have pain earlier in pregnancy. Those who are overweight and/or have had back pain prior to pregnancy are at higher risk. The onset of pain is often caused by a few different factors.
During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin. This hormone is responsible for causing relaxation of the ligaments of the body to allow stretch and make room for the baby during delivery. However, relaxin is not specific to the ligaments of the pelvis and will also increase flexibility in the joints of the lower back. This increase in flexibility and joint movement can cause joint instability, leading to increased stress on the joints of the lower back ultimately leading to pain.
The other factor is the progressive change in our bodies center of gravity as the baby grows. As our center of gravity is shifted forward and away from the spine, we have to use our spine position and more muscular strength to keep us upright. These changes in muscle activity and our center of gravity can overwork and strain the muscles leading to pain and tightness in the low back.
These factors can lead to an onset or increase in low back pain during pregnancy. To help alleviate some pain and discomfort, try incorporating these stretches and exercises into your day. Consulting with a chiropractor is another option if you continue to have pain.
1) Cat/ Camel Exercise
This mobilization exercise gently activates and works the muscles of the low back all while giving the spinal segments a full range of motion.
*While on your hands and knees, arch your back up towards the ceiling and hold for 5 seconds. Then arch your back down towards the ground and hold. Repeat movement for 2-3 minutes several times a day.
2) Pelvic tilt
This exercise is effective at activating and strengthening the low back and pelvic muscles. This helps create stability of the lumbar region.
*Lie on your back on a firm surface with knees comfortably bent (top picture). Then flatten back against the table by tightening up your abdominal muscles and bending your pelvis up slightly. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat for 2 sets of 20 repetitions.
3) Bird dog
This is another great stabilization exercise for the low back. While keeping the spine in a semi fixed position and performing movements, we increase our ability to create stiffness in the lumbar spine and counteract the forward shift in gravity.
* On hands and knees, raise opposite arm and leg straight out away from the body. Hold for 10 seconds and then return to start position, then repeat with other arm and leg raised. Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions.