Back pain is one of the most common complaints in pregnancy with well over half of women experiencing this problem. If you have had back trouble in the past, there is a stronger likelihood that you will get a reoccurrence of back pain in pregnancy.

For those of you who have never previously had any trouble but are now being plagued by back pain then the two main reasons for the onset of this problem are the shift in your centre of gravity caused by having a growing bump, and, according to certain research (but not all) the higher-than-usual levels of the hormone relaxin present in your body.

Couple these factors with a sedentary desk job and other life-style habits, such as wearing high heels or carrying a heavy shoulder bag, and you are even more likely to experience lower back pain in pregnancy, along with tension across the mid back and the neck and shoulders.

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Posture and back pain in pregnancy

When there is correct postural alignment, the spine has four natural curves and these curves not only balance each other out, but they also act as a form of shock absorber within your body – a bit like a spring. With the growing weight of your bump, you will find that your pelvis tips forwards, causing your lower back to arch and your bottom to stick out a little. In terms of back pain in pregnancy, what this change in posture does is place pressure in the region of the lower back.

Your spine becomes compacted in that area and the surrounding muscles get tight and uncomfortable. Pelvic tilts are the perfect antidote to this problem, and I would strongly encourage all women in pregnancy to regularly do pelvic tilts whenever they feel tension building in the lower back. Exercises to relieve back pain in pregnancy2

All fours pelvic tilt

1. Set yourself up in a box position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Make sure that your back is in neutral. By this I mean that it should have its natural curves but these should not be too pronounced.

2. Once you have set yourself up, tuck or tilt your pelvis under whilst leaving your upper back alone i.e. in “neutral”.

3. If done correctly, you will feel your lower back lengthening and stretching whilst your deep abdominals at the bottom of your bump will tighten and draw inwards.

4. As you tuck under, hold for 1-2 seconds and release back into your initial position. Repeat 10-12 times.

5. As your bump grows, your lower back will start to tighten and this is the perfect antidote!

Remember that pelvic tilts can be performed in many different positions and not just on all-fours. Many women with back and pelvic pain in pregnancy will find pelvic tilting on a birthing ball particularly beneficial.

Modified Superman for pregnancy

1. Set yourself up in a box position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Make sure that your back is in neutral. By this I mean that it should have its natural curves but these should not be too pronounced.

2. Extend one arm in front of you keeping the fingers lightly on the floor. Make sure that you are drawing your abdominals inwards so as to avoid arching your lower back.

3. Keep your back level when you lift your arm. Breathe and hold the position.

4. Bring the arm back down and then swap over and extend the other arm. Think about lengthening through your back and arm.

5. Now repeat this process with each leg: lift up your leg keeping the toes on the floor and without arching your lower back; do not tilt your pelvis upwards; breathe and hold the position; lengthen through your back and leg.

6. Now put these two moves together and lift opposite arm and leg, following the same advice, and keeping fingers and toes lightly touching the floor.

Cat stretch

1. Set yourself up in a box position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Make sure that your back is in neutral. By this I mean that it should have its natural curves but these should not be too pronounced.

2. Drop your head downwards and let your neck relax. You may well feel an aching tightness in the back of the neck and the upper back. Keep the head relaxed until the tension in the neck area dissipates.

3. Now draw the whole of your back upwards towards the ceiling, tuck the pelvis under and pull gently inwards on your lower abdominals. You should feel the whole of your spine lengthening.

4. Release back into neutral and repeat as necessary to relieve tightness in the back.

Repeat these three key exercises as and when needed. They are particularly beneficial just before bedtime, so as to ease away the tensions of the day.

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