50-70% of women experience lower back pain during pregnancy. Physical changes in pregnant women including hormonal changes, changes to the center of gravity and increased weight gain cause changes to posture and often lead to discomfort in the lower back, shoulders, neck and hips. Two types of postural misalignment are common among pregnant women- Lordosis- increased curvature in the lower back and Kyphosis- rounding the shoulders forward. Some women have a little of both known as lordo-kyphosis.
Following the basic principles of alignment can help draw student back to a balanced pelvis and can be helpful in maintaining postural integrity to avoid chronic back pain. When the lower back over arches you need a gentle scooping of the tailbone during yoga practice and everyday activities in order to balance the pelvis and maintain natural curves of the spine. This exaggerated curvature causes the back muscles to shorten and become tense, which also strains the psoas muscle.
The rounding of the upper back and shoulders is common in pregnant women and new moms. This can be caused by added weight in the breasts or psychological reflex to round and protect the growing baby inside. With new moms it is usually from carrying the baby and nursing. Try pressing the shoulder blades in and down your back and lengthening the side body to improve posture and back discomfort.
Some Tips for Alleviating Lower Back Pain:
In my first pregnancy I had Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. Many of you are wondering what is this? The SI Joint connects the sacrum (bottom of the spine) with the pelvis. During pregnancy the hormones loosen the connective tissue of the back of the pelvis around the sacrum and the SI joint (which is normally a stable joint). The SI joint can move up and down causing extreme pain that can radiate into your outer hip and groin.
During my first pregnancy it was trial and error. I would do a yoga pose, feel the pain, have trouble getting out of the pose, did a bunch of cat/cow poses and eventually the pain would go away. I then knew to avoid that pose for the rest of my pregnancy. Once the pain was so excruciating it took me 25 minutes to limp home from the gym just 4 blocks away. Sometimes the pain would come just from walking, getting out of bed, bending down, etc.
Seven weeks into my second pregnancy I started to feel slight pain in my SI joint again, this was months earlier than my first pregnancy. I knew I could not go on for another 7 ½ months going in and out of pain. So I started to do some research and experimented with taking different yoga and Pilates classes. I realized my pelvis was unstable and I needed to work hip and pelvis stability. I started concentrating on engaging the muscles of the outer and inners hips, thighbones, and abdominals. I also started incorporating Pilates 1-2x a week into my fitness routine, to reinforce the stability of my pelvis. Now when I practice yoga I am conscious not to dump into my joints and my newfound flexibility. I am now 27 weeks into my pregnancy and have no pain in my SI joint and I can practice all the yoga poses I wasn't able to do during my first pregnancy.
It is so important to be in tune with your body and to nourish yourself throughout your pregnancy. Many women don't realize the increase of elasticity of their joints and muscles during pregnancy. While it is important to maintain flexibility to accommodate the growing baby during the birthing process it is also vital to work on building strength and pelvis stability. This will prevent pelvic instability and injuries to ligaments and joints, which are susceptible to injuries during pregnancy.
Tips for Stretching Safely While Pregnant:
Stretching has many benefits it is important that you know how to stretch safely to avoid injuries whether pregnant or not. If you have any questions about this please comment below.
At first I was creating this website as an informative site, explaining why I teach yoga and Pilates, how yoga became such a big part of me and what my classes are all about. In the process of creating the website I decided to start a blog. Friends and clients are always asking me lifestyle questions- how often I exercise, do I only practice yoga, can I lose weight from yoga, what do I make for dinner, what do I feed my daughter, healthy recipe ideas, what sunscreen I use, etc. This was the perfect way to share all this information with friends and family and inspire people to live a healthier and more organic lifestyle. I hope you enjoy it and I cant wait to begin this new journey with you!