Pregnancy is a beautifully painful journey. Building a new life certainly can take the zip out of the mother’s, so looking for a way of combating the inevitable back pain that comes with the extra weight of the growing baby. Some mothers are satisfied looking for ways to control the pain or alleviate it. But others want to know if it’s too late to build a stronger back during pregnancy. Fitness expert Christina Howells received just such a question:
What’s the best way to ease back pain during pregnancy? My lower back is very stiff and at night I have trouble sleeping as it’s so painful to lie on my side (I usually sleep on my back). Can you suggest any exercises – or any solutions so that I can get a good night’s rest as I get bigger? . . .
Strengthening the transversus abdominus will help and is safe in pregnancy. Pull the lower abdominal muscles towards the spine and hold for five to 10 seconds, breathing normally (engage these muscles by scooping in your tummy as if zipping up tight jeans). Repeat five to 10 times a day. The child pose is also good: kneel on the floor with legs slightly apart, then lean forwards until your forehead is on the floor, arms outstretched.
MSPT Alicia Silva has other suggestions. They include pelvic, butt and thigh exercises in addition to back and abdominal workouts. She suggests four exercises in particular:
Pelvic Tilts (for abdominal muscles): The simplest way to learn the pelvic tilt is to lie on the back with knees bent, feet resting on the floor. Place your hand in the small of your back, and you will most likely notice a space between your back and the floor. Now try to flatten the lower part of the spine against the floor, so that you feel no space between your back and the floor. The buttocks should be relaxed in order to isolate the abdominals. The pelvic tilt can be performed while lying on your back, standing, on your hands and knees, or sitting.
Arm and Leg Raises (for back muscles and buttock): Kneel on your hands and knees with a straight spine. Do a pelvic tilt to keep your pelvis stable and then lift your right arm and left leg to form a straight line with your spine. Pause in this position and then slowly lower your arm and leg. Alternate lifting the opposite arm and leg. If you have difficulty keeping your balance in this position, modify the exercise by performing only the leg or arm raises separately.
Kegels (for pelvic floor muscles): To exercise the pelvic floor muscles, try to envision pulling the muscles of the vaginal area up and in towards your baby. You should not feel your buttocks, thighs, or abdominals tightening as you do this.
Wall Squats (for abdominal muscles, buttock muscles and thigh muscles): Stand with your head, shoulders, and back against a wall with your feet about 1 to 2 feet away from the wall. Press your lower back into the wall and squat as if you were going to sit down, with the knees approaching a 90-degree angle. Come back up slowly, keeping your back and buttocks in contact with the wall.
These are just a few of the popular tips out there for not just relieving pain, but preventing it during pregnancy. There are other exercises that are certain to keep your back strong during the nine-month process, but this is certainly the right set of workouts to get you off the ground.