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6 Tips to Prevent Low Back Pain in Pregnancy

More than 50 percent of women experience low back pain at some point during their pregnancy. Physical therapists are movement experts that can partner with you during your pregnancy to reduce back pain and achieve a more comfortable and healthy pregnancy.

Several factors contribute to low back pain experienced in pregnancy. Some factors are unavoidable, such as hormonal changes, which cause looser ligaments in preparation for birth and increased weight gain as the trimesters progress.

Other factors, such as the mother’s strength, flexibility, and body mechanics, can be improved with the help of a physical therapist. Here are some of the factors you can control and how to do so:

  • Keeping the abdominal, back, and gluteal muscles strong will go a long way in reducing strain on your back. Because doctors recommended you avoid any exercise lying flat on your back during the second and third trimesters, a physical therapist can teach you how to modify activities throughout your pregnancy to be able to continue exercising safely.
  • Excess tightness in muscles such as the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings places increased stress on the back. Increasing your flexibility can reduce pain.
  • Footwear/shoes. Don’t wear high heels. Your center of gravity is shifted forward during pregnancy; heels exaggerate this shift and increase stress on the low back.
  • Try to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. Many stores sell pregnancy support pillows that allow you to get positioned comfortably for sleep.
  • Adjust your desk chair so that your hips are a little higher than your knees. Keep your feet supported flat on the floor and use a small pillow or towel roll behind your lower back for extra support.
  • Lifting mechanics. Always use proper mechanics when lifting to protect your back. Bend from the knees, tighten your abdominal muscles, and hold the object close to your body.

If not addressed properly during pregnancy, low back pain may linger into the postpartum period, especially once you are spending most of the day lifting, carrying, and feeding your baby.

Other problems frequently encountered in the postpartum period, such as urinary incontinence, separation of the abdominal muscles, and pelvic pain can be addressed in physical therapy. Let your therapist know if you are experiencing any of these issues. All physical therapists are trained to help with these common problems and, if needed, we can refer you to a women’s health therapist with a specialty in these areas. Contact us to get started on correcting your pregnancy back pain.

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by Dr. Megan Barrett, PT, DPT

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