Regular movement is an important part of a healthy pregnancy -- for strength, relaxation, and overall better health and happiness. But what if you experience low back pain while or after exercising during your pregnancy? The general rule is that if something hurts, you should stop. Stop and investigate, that is. Often, a simple adjustment or two is all that is needed to allow you to continue exercising safely and comfortably.
Lower back pain is so, so common in pregnancy. But it doesn't have to be! With proper support and extra attention to how you move, your back can be pain free, or at least, a lot less painful. Let's look at some of the most effective ways to address low back pain in pregnancy.
The following advice is not a replacement for medical advice. If you are experiencing intense, chronic, or unexplained pain with anything in your pregnancy, see your doctor. For expert advice on moving your body in comfort during pregnancy, visit a prenatal physical therapist who will be able to help you identify the source of pain and come up with a plan for alleviating it and maintaining your fitness.
One of the biggest causes of back pain is prolonged and poor form sitting. If your day involves a lot of sitting, start sitting better for your body, which means good sitting posture and frequent breaks to get up, move around, and reposition yourself. A different kind of chair can help, but ultimately it's how you sit in that chair that matters. If possible, alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
If you're experiencing lower back pain and are in your second or third trimester, you can try wearing a maternity support belt throughout the day, which will help displace the weight you're carrying and put less strain on your low back.
Paying attention to your posture will also help back pain. For good posture, simplest tip to keep in mind is "untuck your pelvis." If you're scratching your head over the how and what of this, think of it this way: stick out your butt. If you were a dog wagging your tail, what position would you have to be in to do so? This simple move can change your entire posture and help alleviate pain. To learn more in depth about posture, pain, and body mechanics, I highly recommend checking out the Nutritious Movement blog by Katy Bowman, MS.
Of course, the kind of shoes you wear also can impact back pain. Opt for flats (but not flip flops) instead of heels. There are conflicting theories about shoes with good, cushioned support vs. minimalist "flat" shoes. Many experts believe that shoes with extra cushioning and support can do more harm than good, while flat shoes allows your body to engage more of your muscles when walking and running, which can help prevent injury and pain. This is not my area of expertise, so I encourage you to do your research before purchasing the best flat shoe, supported or flat, for you in pregnancy.
Exercise is supposed to be rewarding -- not painful. Adjusting for your body's changes in pregnancy does not mean that you should have to adjust what you can stand in terms of pain. More often than not, there are ways to accommodate and support your pregnancy in order to continue doing the things you enjoy and the things that ultimately benefit your health and well being. If pain is preventing your from exercising during your pregnancy, stop -- and investigate why. The solution might be simple!