It is no secret that pregnancy takes quite a toll on the body. It severely stretches the abdominal wall, causing core muscles to weaken and resulting in back pain. Fortunately, our physical therapists at Integrated Physical Therapy can help relieve your back pain, both during your pregnancy and after you have given birth. We can help you achieve a complete recovery, even if it has been years since your last pregnancy.
Even if you still exercise regularly, if you do not target your core muscles specifically, an imbalance in muscle strength will occur. When your core is strong, it means your spine is better protected against injury when you twist, lift, or strain your body while doing an activity – such as picking up your little one!
If you have been suffering from back pain either during or after a pregnancy, don’t hesitate to contact Integrated Physical Therapy today. We’ll help you relieve your undesirable back pain so you can get back to comfortably doing what matters most – preparing and caring for your bundle of joy.
Why am I experiencing back pain with pregnancy?
If your pregnancy is causing you back pain, you are not alone. In fact, many women report back pain both before and after giving birth. Most expecting mothers report their back pain occurring at the “sacroiliac joint,” which is the area where your pelvis meets your spine. There are many reasons why you may experience prenatal or postpartum back pain, including:
- Increased weight. Women typically gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. This puts extra stress on the spine, since it is responsible for supporting your weight. The growing baby in your uterus also puts extra pressure on the nerves and blood vessels surrounding your back and pelvis, which can also attribute to your back pain.
- Separation of muscles. As your uterus continues to expand throughout your pregnancy, stress is put on your “rectal abdominis” muscles. These muscles run parallel to one another, from the rib cage to the pubic bone. With continued expansion of the uterus, it is possible for these muscles to separate along the center seam, in a condition known as “diastasis recti.” This may cause or further aggravate your back pain.
- Changes in posture. When you’re pregnant, your center of gravity changes. To compensate for this, most women will adjust their posture and the way they move, sometimes without even realizing they are doing so. Postural changes may cause a strain in the back, leading to discomfort.
- Changes in hormones. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone known as “relaxin.” This increases joint laxity and – much like its name infers – allows the ligaments and joints in the pelvic area to relax. This is your body’s natural way of preparing for vaginal birth; however, the relaxin hormone can also cause ligaments in the spine to loosen. When this happens, instability and pain can ensue.
Strengthen your core muscles and relieve your back pain with physical therapy:
At Integrated Physical Therapy, we offer both pre- and post-natal treatments for pregnancy-related pain relief. At your initial appointment, you will be greeted by one of our experienced and dedicated physical therapists who will perform a physical evaluation in order to assess the nature of your symptoms. Your medical history and any health risks will also be discussed and taken into account prior to creating a treatment plan. After your evaluation, your physical therapist will put together an individualized treatment plan for you, aimed at providing relief for your back pain and allowing for a smooth pregnancy and/or recovery from childbirth.
Treatment plans typically involve gentle therapeutic exercises, stretches, and manual therapy. These are all done in order to relieve pain, strengthen your core muscles, and improve posture. Your physical therapist may also suggest additional methods and modalities, such as massage or ice and heat therapies, in order to provide additional relief and optimum function as deemed necessary.
For specific conditions, such as cases regarding diastasis recti, condition-specific treatments will be designed to correct the symptoms. Diastasis recti can interfere with the strengthening of the abdomen muscles, resulting in exceptionally weak core muscles and increased back pain. Our highly-trained physical therapists use the latest evidence-based clinical knowledge in the field to identify and treat this condition, based on its severity and the personal needs of the patient.
Try this on your own:
In addition to our physical therapy services, there are exercises you can do on your own to try and strengthen your core muscles and relieve your back pain. One common exercise that engages all the layers of your abdominal wall, pelvic muscles, and spinal muscles is as follows:
- Begin by lying on your back, with your hands placed on your lower abdomen. The muscles beneath your hands are known as your “transverse abdominis muscles.”
- Try to activate your transverse abdominis muscles by drawing the muscles together towards your belly button.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds. Remember to keep breathing as you do so, taking slow, relaxing breaths.
- Repeat 10 times.
Contact us today:
You don’t need to live with back pain during or after your delivery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, and we’ll create a plan to help you along your pregnancy and/or childbirth recovery. At Integrated Physical Therapy, we want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible as you welcome the new addition to your family!