A growing baby puts a lot of stress on the back of a mom-to-be. This pain is often located right where your spine and pelvis meet, at the SI – or sacroiliac – joint. Though non-pregnant women might not think twice about taking a few over-the-counter pain medications to ease inflammation, you may want to avoid too much medication that could affect your fetus.
Physical therapy offers an alternative to pain medications that can help improve function and make it less painful to operate from day-to-day. Read on to learn about how specific exercises can be a drug-free remedy to back pain during pregnancy.
Causes of back pain during pregnancy
Your back starts aching for many possible reasons, chief among them being the natural weight gain that occurs with pregnancy. This weight is typically concentrated at the front side of the belly, which means your spine has to support the weight – causing lower back pain.
A shift in your center of gravity that occurs with a bigger belly means you move differently, even if you don’t notice it since the changes happen gradually. When your body produces more relaxin, a hormone that allows soft tissue to stretch during the birth process, the ligaments of your spine may become looser and less supportive.
Commonly, the rectus abdominus muscles separate along their center, parallel seam. This condition, known as diastasis recti, means your core doesn’t support your back and leads to pain, too.
Finally, the stress of pregnancy, weight gain, a new baby, and poor sleep can show up as back spasms and other pain.
How physical therapy can help
Exercise, even when pregnant, supports a healthy, functioning body. At Midtown East Physical Therapy, the team recommends movement such as walking, swimming, or stationary cycling.
The therapists at Midtown East Physical Therapy can also teach you how to handle your changed body and center of gravity to minimize pain. For example, you can learn how to squat to pick up a dropped item – rather than bend over. Positioning yourself on your side, rather than on your back, and putting a pillow between your knees during sleep can also relax your spine and pelvis. They may recommend comfortable shoes and support hose to reduce inflammation.
A support belt that lifts your abdomen can also make pain less intense. The therapists may also apply cold compresses and alternate them with heat therapy to relieve your back pain.
At Midtown East Physical Therapy, you’ll learn exercises and tips that improve your posture to straighten your spine and alleviate your pain. If you sit much of the day at a desk, roll a towel, and place it between your low back and the chair back. Be sure to sit up straight, even if that means you need a small stool or stack of books to place your feet on while you’re at your desk.
If back pain plagues your pregnancy, consult the team at Midtown East Physical Therapy for safe solutions. Call the office, or book an online appointment today.