Here at Oahu Spine & Rehab we see a great deal of pregnant patients. Sometimes they come in “waves”, the most recent seems to be a group of women in their third trimester of pregnancy. Some that we have seen since the day they found out they were pregnant, and others that have developed symptoms further along in their pregnancy. It is such a pleasure to be a part of the care given to these women, because we know how special this time is for them and their families.
When you reach that 28th week of pregnancy you are finally in that last “home stretch”. By this time all that extra weight that you may have gained will be putting a lot of added pressure on your body which could end up giving you back pain. At this time your ligaments are now starting to loosen up to get ready for the birthing process which may cause you discomfort in your hips or pelvis.
One of the best and easiest ways to avoid or get relief from this is to focus on having proper posture. Standing, sitting, and walking upright, with shoulders back and ears aligned with the shoulders is good posture to have all around, even when not pregnant. Another easy fix could be getting fitted to wearing a properly sized and supported bra. In this last trimester, the breasts are fuller and getting ready with colostrum for when baby arrives. Wearing a bra that doesn’t give good support or coverage can be a cause of back pain.
We all know each person and each pregnancy is different. So just like every other case, each protocol and action of care is different. About a year ago, I was in my third trimester of pregnancy anxious for my little bundle of joy to arrive. I had an amazing pregnancy, with very little complaints. I don’t have any other pregnancies to compare it to, but I can say that I did do a lot of preventative rehab. I feel that staying fit while I was pregnant led me to having a pretty easy pregnancy and a good recovery. I stretched every day. My drive to work consisted of sitting in stop and go traffic for about an hour, and at that stage of pregnancy I would get to work with tight hip flexors. Two minutes of a kneeling or standing lunge hip flexor stretch would give me relief. I also made sure to stretch my hamstrings, piriformis, adductors, and calves.
Another great stretch we like to teach sitting on a physio ball. Posterior pelvic tilts and circles are great to open up the hips and loosen the low back. When doing this you want to make sure to move mainly in the hips while keeping the torso still, sort of like a hula dancer or like you are dancing to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Jump on It”. Sitting on the physio ball is also a good position to practice engaging transverse abdominals and the pelvic floor muscles. I highly recommend to all our pregnant patients to get a physio ball for home. Even when I wasn’t doing any stretches or exercises on it, just sitting on the ball would give my hips and pelvis relief.
These are just a few of my favorites, and like I mentioned earlier, every pregnancy is different. If you are experiencing any pain while pregnant or simply want to practice preventative rehab, PT/Rehab at OSR can help personalize a plan of care that is right for you that could consist of an exercise program, chiropractic adjustments, kinesiotaping, trigger point therapy, approved modalities, and/or massage.