Pregnancy and Low Back Pain
Pregnancy and low back pain. They go together like the stereotypical cravings of pickles and ice cream. But why? And what can you do about it?
There are a few reasons why low back pain is a prenatal concern:
1. As your baby grows, your abdomen stretches to make room. To create this space, your abdominal muscles get squished and stretched far beyond their normal state, losing their ability to work properly. They can no longer help your core support your body posture. Unfortunately, this means that your lower back takes on all that extra baby weight without the muscle power that could previously help you.
2. Relaxin. I'm sure you've heard that word SO MUCH during your pregnancy! It is the second reason for low back pain. The function of this hormone is to relax joints, hence its name. During pregnancy, this hormone is present in 10 times its normal concentration in the female body! Its job is to loosen your pelvic joints to make delivery through the vagina possible. Unfortunately, relaxin relaxes ALL your joints, which sometimes can cause inflammation and pain, especially in the low back.
Fortunately, there are a couple of simple strategies that can help minimize the pain:
Strengthen your back muscles. You can strengthen the back muscles safely during pregnancy as long as there is no weight from the chest and upper body pushing on the pelvis, like barbells. There are simple exercises you can try. (Prior to exercising, ask your doctor or midwife if he or she thinks these exercises are appropriate for you.)
Exercise 1: Get on your hands and knees as if you are going to scrub a floor. Lift your right arm up to the sky, so that it is level with your back, and at the same time, lift your left leg as high as you can, but no higher than the level of your hips. Hold this balancing posture for a second, without squeezing your lower back. Do the same thing with the left arm and right leg. Keep alternating for 10 to 15 repetitions. This exercise helps strengthen the core, shoulder and rear muscles.
Exercise 2: Get on your hands and knees again, lining up your wrists and your elbows so they're under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale slowly and as you exhale, arch your back like an angry alley cat so that your body makes a convex C-shape. Hold the arch for a couple of seconds and repeat 10 to 15 times. This will help strengthen lower back and stomach muscles. Photo credit: www.blooma.com
Prenatal Chiropractic Care. Some chiropractors, like me, are certified in a special technique that was designed specifically for prenatal care. It's safe, gentle, effective and can help decrease pain at a time when painkillers and other medications can't be taken. Webster's Technique helps balance the pelvis and the rest of the spine to help you deal with the changes your body is going through and reduce inflammation and discomfort.
See our Prenatal page for frequently asked questions about chiropractic during pregnancy.