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  • Writer's pictureErin White

How To Alleviate Back Pain During Pregnancy at Home

Low back pain during pregnancy affects approximately 60-70% of expecting mothers. Pregnancy related back pain can be located anywhere from below the ribs down to the pubic symphysis and could even radiate down the posterior thigh into the calf. Usually there is no pinpoint cause or incident to the pain, but it is felt that it’s mostly due to a combination of postural, hormonal, circulatory, and other physiological changes that the body undergoes. For most the intense pain starts between the 5th and 7th month of pregnancy, but it can come on at any point during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the enlarging uterus changes the load and posture of the woman shifting her center of gravity forwards which increases the stress on the low back. Another contributor to low back pain is the rapid weight gain that comes with pregnancy. Women with a normal BMI are expected to gain 20-30 pounds over the course of their pregnancy. This weight gain increases the amount of force places on the joints, changes their overall center of gravity, and forces them into an anterior pelvic tilt (lumbar lordosis). It’s common to see hyperlordosis occur in the later stages of pregnancy due to this anterior displacement of gravity. This increase in lordosis causes additional stress on the intervertebral discs, ligaments, and stretches/weakens the abdominal muscles.

**If you are experiencing low back pain that does not go away or is interfering with your daily life then please seek out a physical therapist for help! These exercises are merely suggestions and are NOT a fix all as I have not personally assessed your specific pain.**

Most treatment will start with education and adjusting current activities. It’s very important to address posture while standing, walking, and sitting as well as proper body mechanics with bending over etc.

Here are some non-exercise techniques to try to alleviate your pain:

· Sleep with a pregnancy pillow (the one I use is linked here) or any pillow between your legs

· Practice postural control (upright, neutral spine posture) while sitting and standing

· Take short walks/stretch breaks throughout the day

· Use a compression/SI belt for extra support

Here are some simple exercises to do to try to alleviate your pain:

· Side body stretch: The side stretch exercise stretches and strengthens the intercostal muscles. These are the muscles between the ribs. They help support the ribs.

To do the side stretch:

  • Sit in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor or stand with feet hip-width apart.

  • Lean forward slightly to keep from "hunching" your back and shoulders.

  • Keep your hips, shoulders, and ears in a straight up-and-down line.

  • Raise your right arm overhead and bend your upper body to the left in a reaching motion. Keep your upper body facing straight ahead-don't twist it to the side as you bend.

  • Make sure you feel the muscles gently stretch all along your side from your lower back up to your shoulder.

  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat the stretch 2 times.

  • Switch sides and do the stretch in the opposite direction. Repeat twice.

· Cat/Camel stretch:

To do this stretch:

  • Come onto your hands and knees, making sure your hands are under your shoulders, your knees are under your hips and your back is in a neutral position.

  • Cat: Sink your back down towards the floor and lift your head up at the same time, sticking your tailbone out to make a curve with your spine. Take a big breath out at the same time.

  • Camel: Tuck your head and tailbone in, arching through your spine as to mimic a camel hump. Take a big breath in at the same time.

· TA Pelvic Tilts:

To do this exercise:

  • You can do a pelvic tilt while standing on a firm surface or sitting on an exercise ball.

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart and tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Rotate your hips back and your pelvis forward so your tailbone is pointing toward the floor.

  • Hold to the count of 5 and release. Repeat 10 times.

· Sidelying Hip Abduction:

To do this exercise:

  • Lie down on your side on an exercise mat with legs extended and hips in a parallel line, one on top of the other.

  • Bend your lower arm underneath your head, allowing the full weight of your head to rest on your forearm so it’s in line with your vertebrae.

  • Exhale while raising your upper leg to just above your hip joint. When you feel your hips and back start to tense, stop and hold the position for one to two seconds.

  • Inhale and slowly lower your leg to its starting position, keeping it straight and stacked directly above the lower leg.

  • Repeat for a total set of 10 raises.

  • Flip over to your opposite side and repeat the process with your other leg.

· Easy kettlebell/dumbbell swings:

To do this exercise:

  • Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart.

  • Hold the kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands at chest height. Elbows should be in by the rib cage, not lifted up to the sides.

  • Hinge the hips back and bend the knees to squat down like you are sitting in a chair that's slightly behind you.

  • Squeeze the butt to return to standing

There are so many more safe and effective ways to alleviate back pain throughout pregnancy! Although our bodies are undergoing a lot of physical changes and stress, it doesn’t mean we have to be in pain! If you’re having severe pain whether it be in your back, pelvis, or anywhere else please consult your OB to get in with a licensed physical therapist. It’s super important to keep our bodies moving during this time of change as it will help with a speedier recovery and keep you and baby healthy!



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a wife to my amazing husband Zach and a momma to an angel baby and now a beautiful baby boy. I am an anxiety warrior, a follower of Christ, and a devoted wife, mother, daughter, friend, and sister.

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