Both ailments are extremely common in pregnancy because of the biomechanical strain that your body is under growing a tiny human. And for some, these issues continue into the postnatal period (or back pain develops at this point) because of the postural challenges that come with constantly feeding, holding and carrying a newborn. And typically as a result of weak(er) core muscles.
Whilst every woman is different, it’s extremely common in both pregnant and postnatal women to see:
- rounded shoulders
- rounded upper back
- lowered head
- hands falling forwards
- anteriorly tilted pelvis
These (& any other) postural changes impact on the surrounding muscles, which then need strengthening or releasing (depending on whether they’ve been under or over worked) in order to perform effectively again and to enable you to move well and pain free.
Weakened core muscles
Your core is so much more than just the ‘6-pack’ muscles that people tend to think of. It’s actually a four man team that includes your breathing muscle (“diaphragm”), your pelvic floor, your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles.
Understandably, these muscles are under significant strain during pregnancy, and for many, they weren’t necessarily strong beforehand. Whether you have a “diastasis” / separation of your abdominal muscles or not, strengthening your core muscles is typically a helpful step in addressing your back pain. And looking at your breathing pattern is a great first step.
Scars can have a significant impact on how freely your tissues “slide and glide” and they can cause problems local to the scar and more globally across your body. It’s extremely common to find back pain in women with c-section scars and the benefit of massage / releasing these restrictions shouldn’t be underestimated!
Pelvic girdle pain
Previously referred to as SPD, pelvic girdle pain is pain felt in the pelvis typically during pregnancy. It’s commonly felt at the front of the pelvis because of the strain placed on the point where your pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and the muscles which bring your thighs together attach. But it can also be felt at the back or in the hips. Pelvic girdle pain is often made worse when you stand on one leg or part your legs and is usually felt in the second or third trimester as the strain on your body increases.
Risk factors for pelvic girdle pain include previous injury, having suffered in previous pregnancies, a history of lower back pain and there is commonly a link with hyper mobility.
It’s also common in pregnancy to suffer symptoms of sciatica due to inflammation / pressure on the nerve.
If you’re suffering with any of the above, you might find that some of the following help:
- Always consult your GP / see a physio – there’s lots that can be done to help you!
- Calm down your nervous system and the muscles that are working overtime. Daily stretches and relaxation can be helpful, as can breathing exercises, and massage plays a significant role in calming things down.
- Strengthen your glutes, abs and any other relevant muscles to decrease the strain on the overworked ones
- Think about your posture and the furniture that you spend your time sitting on. Are you getting adequate support? Do you stay in one position for too long? Movement is medicine! Also try and avoid crossing your legs if you have pelvic girdle pain.
- Make sure you’re wearing a supportive bra that fits properly and reduces the strain from your typically larger than normal breasts
- Address your stress levels and your sleep hygiene as much as little one allows!
- Lighten the load…how heavy is your handbag? And do you typically wear it on one side. Here are some tips to improve things.
- Consider your choice of footwear. Is it contributing to your postural imbalances?
- Consider using a support belt – the serola belt is highly recommended by physios and clients alike
- Ice / heat packs, as appropriate
- Acupuncture / reflexology / other therapies