3 Exercises Every Pregnant Woman Should Do
According to the literature, up to 90% of women will experience low back and/or pelvic pain during pregnancy. This pain can contribute to problems such as disturbed sleep, disruption of activities of daily living, and a need to take painkillers. Additionally, as the baby grows, the abdominal muscles become stretched and are less able to provide the support and stability that are necessary to maintain a healthy back and pelvis.
Here are 3 exercises that expectant mothers can perform to help strengthen and protect their back!
- Abdominal Bracing
- Lay on your back with spine in a neutral position (maintaining the natural curves of the spine)
- Concentrate on contracting your abdominal musculature without drawing your belly in. Think about bearing down to contract your muscles
- Hold this contraction for 5-10 seconds, perform 1-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions
- Once you have mastered this technique it should be used to help you maintain spine stability throughout your activities of daily living
- Pelvic Tilt
- This can be done sitting, standing, laying on your back, or on all fours
- Use your abdominal muscles to bring your pubic bone forward, tucking your buttocks under with a scooping motion, hold for 2-3 seconds
- Next, rock your pelvis in the opposite direction, creating an arch in your low back
- Be sure to only work within a pain-free range of motion
- Perform 3 sets of up to 10 repetitions, resting 60 seconds between set
- Arm and Leg Extension
- Start on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder width apart directly under your shoulders and your knees hip width apart directly under your hips. Maintain a neutral spine
- Brace your abdomen as per exercise 1 above
- Extend one arm out in front to make it parallel with the floor, hold for 2-3 seconds. Be sure to keep the rest of your body stable.
- Return to starting position and perform with the other arm
- Next extend one leg behind you as much as you can while keeping your upper body stable, hold for 2-3 seconds.
- Return to starting position and perform with the other leg
- Perform 3-10 repetitions working up to 3 sets. Be sure to rest 30-60 seconds between sets
Note that if you feel any pain or discomfort while performing these exercises, or 72 hours after performing them, stop the exercises and consult your health care provider!
Dr. Julia Callaghan, BSc (Hons), DC, ART,
CSCS, Contemporary Medical Acupuncture
Pregnancy and Back Pain. Ontario Chiropractic Association. www.chiropractic.on.ca