6 Quick Tips To Manage Pre-Natal Back Pain
By: Dr. Caitlin Davidson
With the upcoming pre/post-natal exercise workshop and all the YOGAthletes GETnREADY to Pop!, this seems like a good time to talk about one of the (many?) not-so-fun parts of pregnancy. Back pain.
Studies have found that 50-90% of pregnant women will experience back pain at some point during and/or after pregnancy. That’s super common! But with the many changes that occur in a woman’s body over nine short months, it’s not all that surprising. It is normal and expected for a woman to gain over 30 pounds during pregnancy. This places extra stress on the low back, knees, ankles, and feet but since the extra weight is carried mostly in the front of the body it also puts additional strain on the spine and muscles of the upper back and shoulders. And as the baby grows, the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate baby, making them less effective at stabilizing the core and maintaining proper posture. On top of all that, by the third trimester a pregnant woman’s body is flooded with a hormone called “relaxin” which loosens the joints of the pelvis to prepare for birth but also makes it more reliant on those already-overworked muscles for stability.
The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to prevent or manage back pain during pregnancy:
· Sleep- This is a good time to bank as much sleep as possible, but a pregnant woman will no longer be able to sleep in certain positions. She will want to avoid sleeping on her front (don’t squish the baby!) but also on her back because the growing uterus can put pressure on large blood vessels in the abdomen and compromise blood flow to the lower body as well as to the baby. The best position will be to sleep on the left side body to optimize blood flow.
· Pillows- Placing a pillow between the knees while sleeping on the side body helps to keep thigh bones in neutral alignment with the pelvis, which in turn takes pressure off the low back. This is a good tip for anyone with low back pain, but is especially helpful during pregnancy. If a lot of time is spent at a desk or computer, providing additional support for the lumbar spine by placing a pillow against the back of the chair at home or at work is also a good idea.
· Support- With the extra weight to carry around during pregnancy it becomes even more important to support the body as best as possible, from the ground up. This means wearing flat shoes with plenty of arch support. This will help ease pressure in all the joints above, including knees, hips, pelvis, and low back.
· Rest- Take short, frequent breaks. When spending a lot of time sitting, get up and walk around every hour to ease postural muscles of the upper body. When walking a lot, stop frequently and sit or lie down with the feet elevated to ease postural muscles of the lower body.
· Exercise- The stronger a woman is before, during, and after pregnancy, the better equipped her muscles will be to support all the changes that happen in the body. Regular exercise will help maintain proper posture and ease stress on the pelvis and low back. But exercise modifications will become increasingly important as a pregnancy progresses. Consult a healthcare practitioner before starting any new exercise program, let class instructors know so they can offer modifications, and come to the upcoming pre/postnatal exercise workshop to learn some important do’s, don’ts, and ways to modify.
· Chiropractic Care- A pregnant woman should consider adding a chiropractor to her healthcare team, whether she has back pain or not. As experts of the spine, joints, muscles, and nerves, chiropractors are uniquely qualified to help keep these areas healthy and address any issues that come up, including management of back and pelvic pain, relieving tired achey muscles, preparing the body for childbirth, and helping with faster post-natal recovery.
Congratulations and good luck to my fellow expecting Yogathletes. If you have any questions, I’m always happy to chat before or after classes. See you at the studio!
Dr. Caitlin Davidson, BSc (Hons), DC
Dr. Davidson graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 2016, while being co-president of the ICPA Pediatrics Club and teaching in a Senior’s Chair Yoga Program. In 2017 she also became a Certified Animal Chiropractor. She is a member in good standing with College of Chiropractors of Ontario. Dr. Davidson is passionate about helping your entire family live your healthiest, most balanced lives. And she loves to practice what she preaches, which is why you can catch her in all styles of classes at Yogathletix!