The waddling gait, the hands pressed into the small of her back, mama-to-be is uncomfortable.
An aching back is such a common part of pregnancy that the waddling and back clutching is a stereotype of late-term pregnancy. But backaches can start much earlier in pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnant women will experience backaches during pregnancy. For many, it persists after the birth of the baby.
Tim Evens PT of Agility Spine & Sports Physical Therapy gave us the lowdown on why back pain is an issue during pregnancy and what to do to prevent and to treat back pain.
Why do so many pregnant women experience backaches?
As the baby grows and mama’s belly grows, the increased weight, shift in center of balance, and the increased mobility of some of the joints of the pelvis (hypermobility of the sacroiliac joint) all contribute to extra strain on the lower back. This added strain and resulting distorted movements with joints locked at the end range of motion can make daily life painful.
What can you do to prevent backaches during pregnancy?
A strong core and upright posture before and during pregnancy can help prevent backaches.
- Squats help strengthen legs, abs and pelvic floor, and require balance and can be performed during pregnancy.
- Balancing exercises, such as through yoga, can provide core strengthening
- Avoid over stretching
- Limit how much sitting you do each day
- Exercise 30 minutes every day
When to contact a physical therapist?
Evens suggests that if back or pelvic pain is limiting daily function do not wait to seek help. Often it is an issue that can be easily addressed. The first port of call is your primary care physician who can rule out other issues. If this is a second or third pregnancy and this is a familiar pain you may wish to check in with your physical therapist’s office.
How can a physical therapist help you if you experience backaches?
A physical therapist can help you return to fully functional movement, and address tissue healing and trauma of back and pelvis pain. As many of these issues can be addressed simply, Evens encourages women to seek help if the pain is limiting their daily function. Don’t let it linger for months when it is easy to fix and can help reduce stress during a time that can be fraught with stress anyway.
At your appointment the physical therapist will evaluate your flexibility, strength, balance and posture. The therapist may manipulate or move your body to address immediate tissue issues, and almost always will provide you with at-home daily exercises to increase strength, mobility and flexibility.
How to perform a squat
Hold your lower lumbar spine in a neutral position. As you squat the low spine should not flex (tail should not tuck under)
Make sure your knees do not move in front of your toes. This ensures that the majority of motion is coming from the hips
Remember good squats require good hip strength and flexibility.
This post was first shared on May 1, 2014 on TMC for Women