• Dr. Monica Ngo

Pregnancy Series 5: Pregnancy, Back Pain & Importance of Core Strength

Did you know that up to 90 percent of pregnant women will experience low back pain and or pelvic related pain during their pregnancy. The weight gain during pregnancy can also place additional stress on the hips, knees, feet and ankle. This can contribute to other problems such as poor sleep, use of pain medication, limited mobility and activities of daily living.


As the baby grows, the abdominal muscles become stretched, and may not be able to provide as much support to the pelvis and spine. To help prevent low back pain and other aches, expectant mothers can perform simple core strengthening exercises that can help reduce the stress on the back and other areas on the body. Read below.


ABDOMINAL BRACING



To correctly brace, contract your abdominal muscles. Lay on your back with your spine in a neutral position. Keeping this position, concentrate on contracting your abdominal muscles without "drawing in". *Important: this involves hardening or tightening the muscles, and not hollowing the abdominal area. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times; perform 1-3 sets.


PELVIC TILT




This can be done, sitting, standing, laying on your back or on all fours. Bring the pubic bone forward tucking the buttocks in with a "scooping" motion. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Then rock the pelvis in the opposite direction to arch the low back and direct the buttocks outwards. Repeat 3-10 times. Gradually work up to 3 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.


ARM EXTENSION



Kneel down onto your hands and knees. Keep your spine in a neutral position and maintain an abdominal brace (by tightening the stomach and buttock muscles). Extend one arm out in front as much as you can even a little way makes a difference. The goal is to make your arm parallel with the floor. Be sure to keep the rest of your body stable. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to starting position and switch sides. Repeat 3-10 times. Gradually work up to 3 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.


LEG EXTENSION



Kneel down onto your hands and knees. Keep your spine in a neutral position and maintain an abdominal brace by tightening stomach and buttock muscles. Extend one leg behind as much as you can, even a little way makes a difference. Be sure to keep your upper body stable. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to starting position and switch sides. Repeat 3-10 times. Gradually work up to 3 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.


Remember, as weight increases during pregnancy and shifts to the front of the body, pregnant women develops a tendency to slouch forward and round their shoulders. These changes can cause additional stress on the joints of the spine and muscles in the shoulders, mid to upper back and neck. It is important to remember to keep your shoulder "down and back" and your chin slightly tucked. Exercises that involves stretching the front of the shoulder and chest and exercises that involves strengthening your shoulder blades can also be helpful.

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