How to reduce your back and pelvic pain during pregnancy
Back and pelvic pain is very common amongst pregnant and post-natal women, it is estimated that 30% of pregnant women will experience it.
Why do so many women get back and pelvic pain?
Due to the increase in pregnancy hormones (predominantly relaxin) the ligaments around your pubic symphysis (joint at the front of your pelvis) and sacroiliac joints (SIJ- 2 joints at the back of your pelvis) start to relax to allow the widening of the pelvis for birth.
Remember, this is a good thing (although it may not feel that way at the time!).
Your body is starting to prepare your pelvis for labour and childbirth.
However this hormonal laxity, in combination with an increase in weight during pregnancy and altered posture can result in an increased load through already weakened joints.
This can cause inflammation around the pubic and SIJ joints, which causes pain.
Does this mean I have pelvic instability?
Previously people would refer to this as “pelvic instability”. This term is no longer used as it is incorrect and only inducing fear amongst pregnant women that their pelvis is going to fall off!
Your pelvis is inherently very stable. You wouldn’t be able to walk or move at all if you were truly unstable.
The more correct picture is that your muscles are just not doing a great job at supporting your pelvis and therefore your already inflamed joints get even grumpier.
There is fantastic evidence to support the use of exercise to heal pelvic and back pain during pregnancy.
As well as strengthening the pelvic muscles, we should also try to avoid putting any extra and unnecessary load on the pelvis.
You should focus on strengthening the muscles that support your pelvis, including…
-Deep abdominals (transversus abdominus)
-Multifidus (deep back muscles)
-Adductors (groin muscles)
-Gluteals (butt muscles)
You should try to avoid
-Standing on one leg ie. when getting dressed.
-Swaying your hip to the side when standing
-Moving the knees apart
-Crossing your legs when sitting
-Exercises that place too much pressure on the pelvis such as star jumps, running, single leg exercises, deep squats or skipping.
For pain relief you should try…
-Strengthening your pelvic muscles, as mentioned above, specifically your gluteals, pelvic floor and deep abdominals.
-Gentle exercise in the water
-Sleeping with a pillow in between your legs
-Practice good posture.
-Sit with a rolled up towel behind your back to improve your lower back support
You could also try buying…
-An ice or heat-pack. Ice over the pubic bone and heat over the gluteals tends to work best for relieving pelvic and back pain. Ice for 10-15 minutes, every 2-3 hours. Use the heat-pack for 10-15 minutes, as often as you like.
-Compression shorts or a pelvic belt to provide extra pelvic support.
If you have tried all of this and still struggle with pain, then book in with your local women’s health physiotherapist for treatment.
You don’t need to endure this, you are worthy of a pain-free and enjoyable pregnancy!
Bio: My name is Laura Callea aka. Physio Laura. I am a Women’s Health physiotherapist specialising in pregnancy. I am all about empowering women to understand their own bodies. I am passionate about prevention and education so that less women suffer pelvic floor weakness, abdominal separation or aches and pains… which means they can enjoy the wonderful experience of pregnancy so much more!