Exercises during Pregnancy to Strengthen the Back
Pregnancy causes the ligaments in the woman’s body to soften and stretch in preparation of making space for the growing baby, and later for labor. However, this also puts a strain on the joints of the pelvis and lower back, leading to one of the most common ailments experienced by pregnant women – back pain. According to a Dr. Poonam Khera, an experienced gynecologist in India,
Backache becomes more severe as the pregnancy progresses, as the weight of the baby increases, often interfering with a good night’s sleep and other daily activities.
Here are the causes of back pain during pregnancy:
- Effect of hormones – The softening of ligaments is a result of the increasing levels of hormones that affect how the back is being supported.
- Shift in the center of gravity – The growing baby and uterus causes postural changes and adds strain to the back.
- Stress – Stressful phases during pregnancy often manifest in form of back pain.
- Posture – Poor posture, standing for long periods or bending can cause back pain.
Exercises during Pregnancy
Certain exercises during pregnancy that work the muscles of the back, abdomen, pelvic floor, thighs and buttocks can reduce the instances of back pain.
Major exercises during pregnancy for these muscle groups are:
- Pelvic tilts – Lying on the back with bent knees, and hands on the small of the back, the lower portion of the spine is flattened against the floor, creating a space between the floor and the back. This exercise works the abdominal muscles.
- Arm and leg raises – The muscles of the buttock and back are worked by kneeling on hands and knees, performing a pelvic tilt followed by lifting the left leg and right arm in a straight line. This is repeated with the opposite leg and arm.
- Kegels exercise – Pelvic floor muscles can be worked by pulling inwards the muscles covering the pelvic floor.
- Squats – Muscles of the abdomen, thigh and buttock can be worked by doing squats. The lower back is pressed against a wall and body is squatted, with the knees reaching a 90 degrees angle.
- Stretching – Stretching muscles is an important part of any exercise programme, and should be performed after warm up. Muscles that must be stretched to keep back pain in check are the neck and chest muscles and the hamstring. Each stretch should be held for 20-30 seconds and repeated thrice.
- Chest stretch – Standing upright with back straight, the hands are clasped behind the back. Arms are stretched upwards and back.
- Neck stretch – This can be done either in a sitting or standing position. The head is bent forward and tilted to one side. A gentle pull is placed to stretch the muscles.
- Hamstring stretch – A foot is placed on a chair, keeping feet and hips facing forward. The body is then leaned forward keeping the back straight. A stretch will be felt at the back of the thigh.
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