Back pain may occur at any stage of your pregnancy, and can be caused by a number of factors, like an altered center of gravity, weight gain, and stress, among others. There are a variety of lifestyle changes that you can make to begin minimizing the pain, such as not wearing high heels, squatting when lifting an object, utilizing a support pillow when sleeping, seeing a massage therapist or other holistic practitioner, and using ice or heat when necessary.
However, one key component is to begin early and often with an exercise routine that supports the back and abdomen. By strengthening and developing the muscles that support the increasing forward weight, you should be able to minimize lower-back discomfort. Additionally, it’s critical to balance strengthening exercises with stretching exercises to release already tight and overextended muscles. This routine should be performed in a slow and controlled manner, and you should be mindful of your breath through each move. 10-15 reps of each exercise should do the trick to help you loosen up, and alleviate your discomfort.
Begin on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly over your wrists (if you have any discomfort, place a rolled towel under your hands). Keep your arms straight and knees a bit farther than hip width apart. Point your toes so the tops of your feet are on the floor. As you inhale, slowly draw your tailbone up, roll your shoulders back, and look up. Exhale slowly, pressing your hands into the floor, drawing your chin into your chest and rounding your spine. Be mindful to not exaggerate the movements.
2. Bird/Dog – Alternate Arm/Leg Lift
Begin on all fours, keeping your spine and neck in a neutral position. Slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward. Keep your hips and shoulders square and make sure your lower back doesn’t arch. Hold for five seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and switch to the opposite side.
Lay on your back and bend your knees, bringing your heels a few inches in front of your buttocks. Your knees should be directly in line with your ankles and your feet parallel, hip distance apart. Have your arms relaxed at your sides.
Using the strength of your legs, press into your heels as you slowly lift your pelvis and hips off the floor, one vertebra at a time. Lift until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, and reach your tailbone long. Hold for a 3-count, lower and repeat.
4. Trunk Rotation Stretch
Lie on your back and bring your knees up toward your chest so your body is positioned as if you’re sitting in a chair. Your knees and hips should be bent at 90-degree angles. Place your hands flat on the floor. Rotate your knees to the right, making sure to keep your shoulders touching the floor. Then rotate to the left side. When completed, make sure to slowly get up (from your side, not using the abdominal muscles) to prevent dizziness.
5. Wide Squat with Side Stretch
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, and your toes pointed at 45-degree angles. Lower halfway down into a squat. Slowly bend from the waist to the right and place your right arm (elbow) on your right quad. Stretch overhead with your left arm and breathe into the stretch. Come back to center and repeat on the left side.
6. Frog Pose Stretch
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees and lower your hips down toward the ground. If your heels don’t touch the ground, roll up a towel or the back of your mat and place it under your heels for support. Place your hands inside or in front of your feet, and press your elbows gently into your knees to feel the stretch.
7. Child’s Pose
Come into the posture by kneeling on both knees at a slightly wide but comfortable distance apart from one another. This distance should be wider than hips width and should accommodate the size of your belly. Then sit back on your heels (which should be facing up; tops on feet down on the mat), and lean forward slowly with your body, walking your arms out long in front of you. You can place your head on the floor or on a support, and take a number of long deep breaths focusing on releasing the lower back.
About the author:
FitBump founder Kira Kohrherr, is an AFAA certified and ACE pre/postnatal certified personal trainer. With over 15 years experience, she works with moms to maintain fit, healthy pregnancies. A 21X Half-Marathoner and 4X Marathoner, Kira became a first-time mom to son Rhys in August 2016.