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In this blog post we are going to cover 5 drug-free ways to help alleviate lower back pain during pregnancy
Pregnancy related pain can be common during pregnancy, but it's certainly not normal. Reaching for pain relief tablets can often feel like the only solution, and for many women this becomes a source of mum-guilt.
We've compiled a list of 5 natural ways to ease pain during pregnancy, which will leave you guilt free.
1. Ice packs
Ice helps to reduce inflammation and soreness; inflammation is often the driver of a lot of pain. When inflammation builds up, chemicals called pain mediatorscome along with it. One example is Substance P, an amino acid that is related to the transmission of pain information into the central nervous system. Ice will help to limit the amount of inflammation without stopping the process completely. Although in large quantities inflammation and Substance P are problematic, their sole purpose is to heal injury. So, stopping it completely with medication such as NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) can slow down the healing process.
2. Get moving
Periods of sitting for longer than 20 minutes can have an effect on the joints of your pelvis, known as ‘creep’. This will spell trouble if you have lower back or pelvic girdle pain, as the ‘creep’ can cause joints to become misaligned or restricted. This is characterised by having trouble standing up straight after sitting, or you might find you waddle for your first few steps once you are on the move. To remedy this, try alternating from sitting to standing during your work day or just get up every 15 minutes to grab a glass of water. Optimising your sitting habits during pregnancy can be so impactful; we have written a whole blog post about it here.
3. Strength training
Getting strong buttock muscles will do your pelvis and lower back a world of good as you progress through your pregnancy. Your buttock muscles are the main power house for pelvis and lower back support. As you get more of the hormone relaxin released into your bloodstream to prepare your body for labour, the stability of your lower back and pelvis will rely more and more heavily on the strength of your buttocks. It’s inevitable your core will become more non-existent in those latter stages of pregnancy (a sad but true reality ladies), but you can work on making your buttocks stronger to positively compensate for this. So don’t be afraid to do some weight training, lots of squats, split-squats, clams, speed-skaters, hip bridges and walking. We will talk in more depth about these exercises in another blog post, and we've some great videos on our IGTV to help with this. Some pelvic floor exercises and deep breathing exercises will also help to maintain as much strength as possible in the top (diaphragm) and bottom (pelvic floor) of your core. You can superset these with your buttock exercises to create mini workouts.
4. Regular stretching
Pregnancy is a great window of opportunity to build some long term flexibility in areas you have always been stiff. Relaxin doesn’t only affect your ligaments, it also impacts on muscle tissue too, so stretching can help your body stay more balanced and reduce the risk of injury. If you suffer with lower back pain, working on building flexibility in your hips will really help to reduce pain and dysfunction in your lower back. Stick to lying down stretches to help limit movement in your spine while moving your legs. You will be grateful for the extra mobility in your hips when your big day comes and you can make the most of the more optimal birthing positions such as being upright, squatting or on all fours.
5. Ditch the lady-like habits
Sitting with your legs cross, tucked over to one side and any other 'lady-like' sitting positions should get thrown out of the window during pregnancy! Anything that takes you off both butt cheeks when sitting, is potentially going to cause a twist which will throw your pelvis off balance. This will contribute to dysfunction in joints and de-activation of muscles which leads to pain. The same goes for standing; next time you catch yourself waiting in line with all your weight leaning on one leg, stop yourself. Make sure your body weight is always being distributed evenly across both feet when standing. Pregnancy is the time to ditch the lady like sitting position and adopt a more natural stance with both feet on the ground, knees hip width apart and your pelvic floor switched on.