Back pain is the most common discomfort during pregnancy and often persists well into the first year of motherhood, even beyond. But there are a few easy tricks to getting back pain under control.
Low back pain—in that achy lumbar area—develops with your changing center of gravity as the uterus moves upward and out of the pelvis. The body compensates with a more swayback posture in the lumbar area, causing the muscles to tighten and ache. Hip muscles tighten too, contributing to the discomfort.
The thoracic area—the upper back—also has its share of aches and pains, since women tend to develop a rounded-shoulder posture as pregnancy progresses and the size and weight of the breasts increase. All the postural changes of pregnancy can cause an overall painful, achy back. So what can you do about it? Exercise the muscles affected the most by pregnancy to counteract those common postural changes.
Stretch. Many muscles tighten as the body changes with pregnancy. Among the worst are the hamstrings, calf muscles, lumbar muscles and deep hip rotators. Stretching those tight muscles can free up the pelvis and spine, allowing them to move normally and minimizing the ache. You can follow this series of stretches for quick relief.
Work the Core. The stabilization of the lumbar spine comes from the abdominal muscles. Since the abs are stretched over that ever-expanding uterus, they get weak and overstretched during pregnancy, causing the body to lose its primary lumbar stabilization. Working the core muscles can help keep the muscle tone and strength needed to maintain lumbar stability. Try this short core routine for prenatal and postpartum moms.
Align Your Spine. Being conscious of your posture can make a huge difference in the way your back feels. While standing, try to keep your weight equal on both feet (avoid shifting to one side) and slightly tuck in your tailbone to counteract the swayback curve in the lower back that's so common in pregnancy. While sitting, try to stick out your tailbone behind you, like a "duck butt." Sitting on the edge of your chair can help, or placing a rolled up towel behind your back when you can't sit on the edge, like in the car. For the upper back, try imagining a string drawing you upward from the crown of your head, helping to elongate your spine. Consciously lift your shoulders up toward your ears and roll them back, squeezing the shoulder blades together before dropping them down.