4 Tips for Back Pain

back pain during pregnancy

Photo by ColeAndyDylan

This mom's carrying triplets -- wow!

Back pain is a super-common preggo complaint. Blame your expanding uterus and all of that extra weight you're carrying around now (thanks, baby!).

Here are some tips (and exercises), curtesy of Dr. Jack Stern, founder of the Brain and Spine Surgeons of New York, to help deal with the pain.


4 Tips for Back Pain During Pregnancy

1. Stay Fit (Yep, That Will Help)

My recommendation is that women begin an exercise program as early as possible in pregnancy and do the program three or four times a week -- but do what you can. Some movement is better than no movement at all.

The exercises I recommend include:

Ankle pumps - Lie on your back, move your ankles up and down, and repeat these 10 times with reps of 10.

Heel slides - Lie on your back, slowly bend and straighten your knee and repeat these again 10 times

Abdominal contractures - Lie on your back with knees bent and hands resting below the ribs, tighten your abdomen to squeeze your ribs down towards your back (making sure not to hold your breath), and then hold it for five seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Wall squats - Stand with your back leaning against the wall, walk your feet out about 12 inches in front of the body, keep the abdominal muscles tight while slowly bending both knees to 45 degrees, hold for five seconds, slowly return to an upright position and repeat 10 times.

It is also easy to do heel raises, where you stand with your weight even on both feet, slowly raise heels up and down and repeat 10 times, as well as straight leg raises, where you lie on your back with one leg straightened and one knee bent, you tighten your abdominal muscles to stabilize your lower back, and then slowly lift your legs straight up about 6-12 inches. Hold for 1-5 seconds and then lower the legs slowly, repeat 10 times and then alternate legs.

2. Watch Your Posture

The most common cause of back pain during pregnancy is due to the additional weight that your back muscles must support. This frequently leads to poor posture and excessive standing and bending, which can trigger or escalate the pain.

It's important to remember that your center of gravity normally lies someplace around the level of your bellybutton - that area we commonly call “your core.” However, as your center of gravity moves forward, as your uterus grows, this puts additional strain on your back and causes your posture to change. So - tuck your buttocks under, pull your shoulders back and down, and stand tall.

3. Sleep on Your Side

Avoid sleeping on your back (in fact, try to sleep on your left side with a support pillow under your knees as much as possible); consider wearing a support belt on the lower abdomen, particularly during the last months of your pregnancy; get plenty of rest with your feet elevated.

4. Consider Treatment

For those with persistent back pain, I recommend seeing your physician and asking whether or not he or she would recommend a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Massage and chiropractic treatment can also help with pregnancy back pain.

++ Do only what's comfortable for you as your pregnancy progresses, and of course check with your doctor if any concerns or questions and to get his ideas on exercises that can help with back pain.

Have you experienced back pain during pregnancy? What has helped you?

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