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Back pain during pregnancy is a common occurrence with approximately 56% of women experiencing pain at some stage throughout their pregnancy. Back pain is caused by a number of factors such as weight gain, posture changes, hormone changes and sometimes muscle separation.
As your baby grows, your centre of gravity changes. Your pelvis shifts forwards to accommodate this change leading to a swayback type posture. This shortens your back muscles and causes lumbar spine joint stiffness. To avoid this happening, try to always stand up tall and straight, holding your chest high. Try keeping your shoulders and upper back upright and relaxed and avoid locking your knees. When standing, try stand with a wide base of support. Sitting posture is equally as important. Your chair must support your whole spine with increased lumbar support to accommodate the change in posture. If sitting all day at work, you may need to slightly recline your chair and bring the keyboard and mouse closer to the edge of the desk.
When sleeping, avoid lying on your back if possible. If you do, support both legs on a few pillows. Side lying is most appropriate with a pillow between your legs.
A maternity or pelvic support belt may also be useful during pregnancy. This allows increased support to the lower back and pelvis at the level which it is most needed. The belt provides the support that normally comes from the ligaments of the pelvis and lower back, which have become lax during pregnancy.
Throughout pregnancy try to maintain a comfortable level of physical activity. Low impact gentle exercise such as walking and swimming are often most suitable during pregnancy. This helps maintain strength of the muscles surrounding and supporting the lower back and often helps ease back pain. Pregnancy pilates is also great in maintaining core and pelvic floor strength and improving thoracic spine mobility throughout pregnancy.
Hot and cold therapy may also provide some relief. Using a wheatbag or hot rub can help increase blood flow to muscles of the lower back and decrease tightness of these muscles that are trying to support the extra weight and strain on your lower back. Cold therapy i.e. using an ice pack can help decrease inflammation, especially if your back pain has suddenly flared up due to increased activity/ poor posture for a prolonged period.
If you have been experiencing pregnancy related back pain for over 2 weeks, contact us here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic. Our physiotherapists can help treat and relieve your back pain and fit you with a support belt if appropriate.