Pocketful of Rye: Pre-natal back pain

Top Tips for tackling back pain, by Camilla Lawrence

In a Pocketful of Rye, 14th July 2014

Over 50% of pregnant women suffer from pain in their low back and/or the joints of their pelvis. Pain can not only affect a woman’s daily quality of life and sleep as her pregnancy develops, but also, if allowed to persist, her labour options and recovery following delivery. While many people will tell you that pain is all a part of pregnancy, there is no reason why you should grin and bear it. Your body is changing and being put under a huge amount of stress, but by following a few simple rules you can help to reduce the pressure on your
joints and prevent some unnecessary pain.

Top 10 tips for preventing and reducing back and pelvic pain during pregnancy:

  1. Think about your posture – try to stand up tall. As the weight of your bump increases, don’t be tempted to slouch or lean back, as this will put more strain on your back and neck.
  2. Avoid standing for long periods of time (drinks parties, weddings, cooking) especially if you are wearing high heels. Sitting down, even for 5-10 minutes every half an hour, will help.
  3. Walking can be a great form of exercise during pregnancy unless you have pelvic pain. If walking is making your pain worse, slow your pace down, take much smaller steps and consider reducing your distances, or driving instead.
  4. Avoid the “waddle”! As your pregnancy develops, swaying from side to side as you walk may seem easier, but this often increases the shear forces through your back and pelvic joints, increasing your risk of back and pelvic pain.
  5. Attend a weekly core-stability exercise class (Ante-Natal Pilates or Yoga are ideal) to help keep your back and other joints strong and supple, reducing your risk of pain.
  6. Avoid activities that aggravate your pain. This may sound obvious, but often we don’t listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. Be aware that back and pelvic pain can also flare up a few hours later or the day after you do an aggravating activity.
  7. Reduce lifting where possible – your back and abdominal muscles are under enough pressure as it is. If you have to lift something, try to keep your back straight and carry the load as close to your body as you can.
  8. Try sitting on an upright chair or supportive arm chair with a cushion behind your back. Low, soft sofas or chairs may look appealing at the end of the day but will frequently make back and pelvic pain worse, as they provide little support to your joints and are difficult to get out of.
  9. Rest when you can (in lying or supported sitting), particularly during your 3rd trimester when your body is under more strain.
  10. Do not put up with pain; whilst common during pregnancy, it is not normal to be in pain. Seek prompt treatment from a specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

Camilla Lawrence is the lead Women’s Health Physio at Six Physio in London. She has previously worked at both Chelsea and Westminster and St George’s Hospitals. Camilla has completed a masters-level Post-Graduate Certificate in Women’s Health Physiotherapy and sits on the Education Board for the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health (ACPWH). She specialises in treating joint, muscle or nerve pain during
pregnancy, and provides safe and effective post-natal abdominal and pelvic floor retraining.

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