Pregnancy: exercises for back pain

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Exercises for back pain in pregnancy

One of the most common ailments of pregnancy is back pain. It is usually localized in the area lumbar, spread from both sides, where all the weight of your spine and the baby growing in your belly is released. The reason for this pain is essentially due to the change in your posture induced by the belly, that is, to support the weight of the belly, the curves of the spine change. With back pain in pregnancy it accentuates the lumbar lordosis leading to overloading of the muscles and tendons, stretching of the nerve roots and therefore pain.





Back pain in pregnancy what to do

First of all it is very important not to overdo it in keeping the erect position fixed, that is, not to stand still for too long. This is because the force of gravity tends to squeeze us down at all times, and the more a body weighs, the more it squeezes it. In our case standing up, our head, our internal organs, and the baby together have a lot of weight that is compressed towards the floor. Our body structure is such that the pelvis is the one that has to bear the weight to allow us to walk, so everything pours in there, increasing the lordosis and stretching the muscles. So the first thing to do is without a doubt create moments of rest while sitting or better yet lie on your side. When you are sitting, it is also very important that you support your back, including your lower back, with a pillow. The whole spine must have a support in this way the muscles are not subjected to tension and therefore can relax, relieving pain. 



Read also: Pilates in pregnancy. Interview with the teacher Federica Varone

Video: Back Pain in Pregnancy

In this video Daniel Di Segni, Physiotherapist, talks about back pain in pregnancy: the main causes, how to prevent it and how to treat it



Remedies for back pain in pregnancy

There are no remedies that can guarantee 100% the disappearance of the back pain in pregnancy. However, there are some precautions that we can adopt in everyday life and in particularly painful situations. Pay close attention to the movement of weights, of any kind. Always keep the legs slightly bent when moving a weight, and if we have to pick up something from the ground we do not bend the back but the legs. Taking hot baths or hot water packs in the painful area increases blood circulation and relaxes the muscles, relieving pain. I know that many use some kind of girdle to support the belly, or a special belt, especially when the pregnancy is well advanced.

I do not agree with this practice very much, and it has no scientific confirmation. The reason for the disagreement is that in this case the musculature is not helped to strengthen or relax, it is simply replaced by an external aid, after which one returns to the starting situation. It is also very important exercise. Normally we would tend to think that sore muscles need absolute rest, but in this case we have to think about the nature of the pain.

The lower back muscles are stretched beyond their normal capacity and this is what causes pain. A poorly toned muscle will relax more easily than a toned muscle and cause more pain. For this, exercising is useful, because by strengthening the back muscles (and body in general) it helps to oppose distension. Obviously the esercizi they must be done under the guidance of an expert who knows what is allowed and what is not, but I will try to explain some very simple ones that you can do at home every day. Ÿ

Exercises in the first trimester

The first trimester is a very special moment, in which we tend to preserve ourselves as much as possible and to avoid even minimal physical exertion. The fear of abortion is just around the corner and we often limit ourselves in every activity. There are actually some simple and non-demanding exercises we can do. Here are a few:

Exercise while lying down

  1. Lie on your back with your legs bent and your heels resting on the floor.
  2. Place your arms outstretched perpendicular to the floor in front of your chest.
  3. Now lift your shoulders, as if you want to grab something in front of you, towards the ceiling, lifting only the shoulder blades off the ground. Repeat the movement 4-5 times

Exercise from the supine position

  1. Always starting from the supine position with the arms extended and relaxed along the body, remove the pelvis from the floor slowly and applying force on the feet.
  2. Raise your pelvis towards the ceiling to your maximum, where you feel your back starting to pull, and then go down slowly. This too 4-5 times.

Exercise on all fours

  1. Now get on all fours. Arch your back up slowly, and push your head towards your chest.
  2. Then return to the starting position and arch your back down by bringing your chin up towards the ceiling. 4-5 times.

Exercise from a sitting position

  1. Sitting with your legs relaxed in the position you prefer. Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height.
  2. Open one arm to the side, bringing it behind you and letting the head and spine rotate to their maximum. Then I return and repeat on the other side.
  3. Lateral bending of the spine from sitting or standing as you prefer, with one arm high above the head and the other down towards the pelvis, may also be helpful.

One important thing to say is that all these exercises are done while breathing. Many of us tend to apnea, but if we do not breathe we do not send oxygen to the muscles that are in pain and we risk worsening the situation. Ÿ

Exercises for the second trimester

Let's start immediately with the exercises for the second trimester, here the belly becomes larger but the general state of well-being can lead to overdoing it. All the exercises done in the first trimester are also repeatable in the second one so if you want you can add them, and please, breathe!

Exercises in the fetal position

  1. Lying on your side in a fetal position, with your knees bent, extend both arms forward and rotate your upper arm upward.
  2. I then make it continue towards the opposite side, up to where I arrive, following it with my head.
  3. And return to the starting position. 4-5 per side.

Exercises sitting on a chair

  1. Sit in a chair and lean your torso slightly forward.
  2. Now raise your outstretched arms and alternate in front of you up to ear height. The hands will have the palm facing down. 4 or 5 times per side.

Exercises on all fours

  1. Let's get on all fours now.
  2. Trying not to arch my back in any way, I raise my outstretched arms with my palms down first in front and then sideways, never exceeding shoulder height. 4-5 times forward per arm, 4-5 times laterally per arm.

Exercise by sitting on your heels

  1. Sitting on the heels, knees fully apart.
  2. I let myself go forward as far as I arrive, with my arms and head limp. Stay in this position for 4 deep breaths and back.
  3. This exercise in particular serves to stretch and relax the muscles of the spine. You can then use it as a final stretch. Ÿ

Exercises for the third trimester

Let us now abandon the previous exercises. At this moment the belly will be very bulky and it will be difficult to maintain some positions such as the supine position. In the third trimester we can do these exercises:

Exercises on all fours

Get on all fours. Now put one of your hands with the palm facing the ceiling between the other arm and legs. Breathe twice in this position and return to the middle by placing your hand on the floor again. Always 4-5 times per side.

Session exercises

  1. Sitting with your legs crossed or otherwise relaxed.
  2. We bend the torso sideways by bringing up the opposite arm to the side of the chin bend. If you feel pain, reduce the bending.
  3. Breathe twice in that position and back. 4 times per side.

In a kneeling position, on all fours.

  1. Bring one knee to the face, pushing the chin towards the chest and the knee towards the belly keeping the arms slightly bent.
  2. Then straighten the back leg returning to the starting position with the head. 4 per side.
  3. Always on all fours, let's imagine we are a cat, who wants to watch his tail.
  4. Then holding the body still, we simply rotate the head back to one side and the other four times. Ÿ

Yoga exercises for back pain

Yoga can be an excellent tool for toning the back muscles, this is because the type of exercise that is done in this case is characterized by minimal effort but which engages all the muscle fibers in depth. Let's try to see some exercises.

  • Standing, arms outstretched overhead with hands joined palm to palm. I bend my knees slightly, and bring my back forward trying to stay with my head tucked in my arms. And return to an upright position. 3 times.
  • Cross-legged sitting, or in any case comfortable. I raise one of the two arms sideways up to ear height. Exhaling I bring my arm back without rotating either the pelvis or the spine. I inhale returning with the lateral arm. And relax. 3 times per side.
  • Cross-legged seating. I put my hands on my shoulders, keeping my elbows at shoulder height. Breathing out, I fold to the side. Breathing in, I go back to the center. And I repeat on the other side. 3 times per side.
  • Let's go back to upright position. I join the arms above the head so that the left hand anchors to the right elbow and vice versa. If you are more comfortable you can rest your arms on your head. Exhaling, I roll up on myself, first bending my head towards my chest and then slowly, vertebra by vertebra, also my back. When I reach my maximum point I inhale and let the muscles relax completely. Then I stay in this position for 3 breaths. And slowly I go back to the starting position. I repeat three times. This is also an excellent concluding exercise stretching, you can decide for yourself how far down to go and bend your knees slightly to maintain balance. Ÿ

Back pain in pregnancy when to worry

As we have seen the backache it is an almost physiological condition due to the displacement of the center of gravity and muscle overload. However, there are some characteristics of particular back pain, which can be signs of something else and therefore set off an alarm bell. First consider the location of back pain, if it is higher than the pelvis or if it is only on one side and not on the other it could mean that there is an inflammation of a nerve roota specific or a muscle contracture and therefore exercise could only make the situation worse.

  • Another alarm bell is the fact that the pain does not go away with bed rest, also in this case it could be a particular inflammation that deserves further attention.

And finally the characteristics of this pain.

  1. If it's intermittent and non-continuous or if it is located lower than normal back pain, beware, especially if you are pregnant. Associated with preparatory contractions it could be the signal of the onset of labor and therefore should not be underestimated. I would like to give you one final advice. The support of those who follow you in pregnancy is important to evaluate all the alarm bells and point you in the right direction. Sometimes treating yourself to a nice massage or physiotherapy / osteopathic treatment can be decisive, or in any case greatly relieve this type of pain.
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