10 best exercises for reducing back pain in pregnancy

Back pain in pregnancy

We all know the benefits of keeping moving in pregnancy. It has been well documented to improve your health, your baby's health and even help with labour, so it makes sense to keep as active as you can manage. 

There are some common aches and pains you can get in pregnancy and back pain is one of them. As your pelvis shifts forwards due to your ever growing bump, the muscles shorten and tighten and this can cause irritation. However, there is so much that can be done to ease this. 


1: Keep your body moving in pregnancy:

Your spine is a stack of many little bones, designed to move. When we are in pain we often go into a protective mechanism of rigidity but if you have back pain the best thing you can do is get moving. Any movement is great but to target the lower back in pregnancy, Cat/Cow is a great exercise for this or even just doing some simple pelvic tilts. You can do this by sitting, standing, four point kneeling or even in bed laying on your back...so no excuses! 

Move and revive

2: Maintaining a good breathing pattern in pregnancy: At the best of times 80% of us don't breathe properly. Stress and the habits of our lives leads to abnormal breathing patterns meaning we are not utilising our diaphragm efficiently nor the full capacity of our lungs. The diaphragm is one of out major core muscles and engaging the transverse abdominals (a deep abdominal muscle ) is a brilliant way of supporting and strengthening the abdomen in pregnancy.

An introduction to breathing

3: Keep your Glutes strong: As the pelvis tilts forwards and the posture changes in pregnancy the glutes can become long and weak. They are such an important muscle group and should be targeted to help maintain a strong pain-free body in pregnancy

Glute burn

4: You can train your abdominals during pregnancy:   You might not be doing crunches but there are so many abdominal exercises you can do to help support your movement. Activating the TVA with breath work during loading is key but also 

Core and glute work out with a band

5: Stretching to maintain range at the joints: If you are not feeling up to doing exercise try just having a stretch. Maintaining hip flexor length will help you target your glutes better and should be done regularly. You might find the piriformis gets very tight in pregnancy too which can lead to sciatic pain or lateral thigh pain. Getting a foam roller into this or releasing with a tennis ball can help. 

Dynamic and static stretching videos 

6: Rest is necessary to help relieve load from your joints: There are times when we just need to put our feet up. A common statement I say to my clients is listen to your body. You will know when you have done too much. If you have been on your feet all day, taking some time to rest may ease the pain. If you have a physical job, perhaps it's worth speaking to your boss about breaking your day up more, adapting your role to enable more breaks or a less physical day.

7: Prehabilitation could help you maintain a pain free body during pregnancy:  As we know exercise is great for you and your baby so going into pregnancy in the best possible fitness is only going to help put you in good stead for a pain-free journey. Addressing previous weaknesses and injuries beforehand might just reduce the chance of exacerbation of your symptoms. 


 8: Rehabilitation sooner rather than later will help:  If you start to feel some niggles, I would highly recommend you seek professional support sooner rather than later. This way it might just be simple changes to load or movement that can make the difference between pain or no pain. Ignoring the problem may mean that as you continue to grow so does the pain. Compensations kick in, as does fear of movement and suddenly you have a much more complicated problem on your hands. 

9: Mix up your day to help to help prevent overload: Variety is the spice of life. Don’t spend all day sat down or standing, mix the day up enabling your muscles to work differently and also rest. Maybe set a timer when you are at work so you can get up and have a walk around, or use a standing desk set up. Go for walks, pop your feet up. Basically put into practice everything we have said above.

10: Posture, posture, posture: Finally, my favourite topic, posture! This can be such a simple way of helping your body remain pain free. Being aware of what is a good posture and trying to maintain it will lead to long term gains in strength and help keep you pain-free. Try it now. Slump down, it might feel relaxed but after a while it will be sore as you are hanging off your ligaments

Now try sitting up or standing tall. You will feel all the muscles up the chain of your body kick into like. These are endurance or postural muscles and so are built to work for long periods of time but we need to use them to get the benefits. Even just being aware of your posture and correcting yourself every now and then can help reduce the strain on joints and make a difference to your pain. 

Introduction posture