Pregnancy Back Pain Relief – The Benefit of Back and Abdominal Strengthening Exercises

Although it is common for a woman to develop back pain during pregnancy, the fact is, pregnancy back pain relief can be guaranteed if a woman engages in exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the vital muscles of the abdomen and back prior to pregnancy. Mild trunk exercises should also be done during pregnancy.

To compensate for alterations to their normal line of gravity, women often develop a temporary lordosis(hollow back, sway back) during late pregnancy. This anterior(or forward) pelvic tilt which increases the lordotic curve in the lumbar region creates a posture which increases stress on the connective tissue structures as well as the musculature of the spine causing low back pain.

Anterior Rotation Of Pelvis

Lordotic Curve(Lordosis)

This abnormal extension deformity is often associated with weakened trunk musculature, especially the anterolateral abdominal muscles. However, the discomfort or pain associated, usually disappears after childbirth.

Lack of appropriate muscle length or strength can affect the degree of lordosis. Tightness in the hip flexors (e.g., the iliopsoas) can also increase the lordotic curve by creating a greater degree in anterior pelvic tilt. However, all the above can be addressed with slow-sustained stretching of the trunk before and during pregnancy.

Because the rectus abdominis muscle is in a position to control the tilt of the pelvis directly. It is important that a woman tries to develop or strengthen this muscle prior to and during pregnancy. This can offer a tremendous amount of pregnancy back pain relief.

Crunch-type activities are used to develop the rectus abdominis. According to some exercise experts, full sit-up should never be done because if the trunk is lifted more than 30 degrees, the hip flexor (eg. The paired psoas )will take over the final portion of the movement.

Although the rectus abdominis can play an important role in controlling the tilt of the pelvis, the lateral abdominal musculature(I.e, tranversus abdominis, internal and external obliques) may be the most important trunk musculature with which to obtain and maintain a healthy low back.

Most Clinicians believe the back musculature is proportionately weaker than the abdominal musculature in persons who experience low back pain. Therefore, overall, the strength of both the abdominal musculature and the back musculature are vital to the maintenance of a healthy spine.

Stretching exercises along with swimming, walking and so on, during pregnancy, can help tremendously to provide pregnancy back pain relief and strengthen a woman’s body in preparation for delivery. Because hormonal changes during pregnancy increase the laxity of muscles and connective tissue, thus making a woman more susceptible to injuries during exercise, stretching exercises should be done slow and gently. Nonetheless, all pregnant women and their primary physicians together should make the final decision regarding their exercise programs.

Finally, in 1994 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggested Guidelines for Exercise During Pregnancy with no additional risk factors. One of these recommendations states that a pregnant woman should continue to exercise at a mild-to-moderate pace throughout the pregnancy, however, she should decrease the exercise intensity by approximately 25% from the pre-pregnancy program.

Lower Back Extension Standing

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Trunk Extension

Partial curl

Anterior Rotation Of Pelvis

Note:Drawing Illustrating forward pelvic tilt: During pregnancy, the pelvic joints and ligaments relax and there is also an increase in the movement of the pelvic. This relaxation of the joints and ligaments is caused by an increase in sex hormones and the presence of the hormone relaxin. It allows freer movements between the vertebral column and the pelvis. The relaxation allows greater rotation of the pelvis and a small increase in pelvic diameters during pregnancy.
secondly, the weight of the body is transmitted through the sacrum anterior to the rotation axis, pushes the upper sacrum inferiorly, causing the inferior sacrum to rotate superiorly.

Important Note:
In 1994 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest Guidelines for Exercise During Pregnancy. One of these recommendations is that after the first trimester, exercises that require lying on the back should be avoided, as this position may block blood flow to the uterus and the baby.

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