If you are pregnant, your back can hurt terribly. However, you can exercise your spine and your back safely so that you can find relief.
While it is not safe for a pregnant woman to begin a totally new exercise routine, it is perfectly safe and often necessary to utilize some new, low-intensity back exercises during pregnancy. The weight from the uterus pulls the lumbar spine forward, straining weak muscles in the middle, upper and lower back.
Strengthening the muscles that surround the spine with prenatal-safe exercises will lessen spinal discomfort and tightness. “Cats and Cows” are a set of yoga poses that will strengthen and stretch your back and abs.
Start in an all-fours position on an even, padded surface. If your wrists hurt or tingle because of carpal tunnel, this exercise can be done on your elbows and knees instead of your hands and knees.
Once you are on all-fours, begin to alternately arch and round your spine. Inhale as you lift your hips and look up at the ceiling while flexing your back (cow), and then exhale as you tuck your head and your tailbone under while flexing your abs (cat).
Imagine pushing your belly toward the floor, and then suck your stomach inward as you round your spine. This is also known as a pelvic tilt or pelvic rock, and this movement will move baby into the correct presentation for birth during the latter weeks of pregnancy.
Do anywhere from 5 to 15 repetitions (reps) as often as you like. This is a therapeutic exercise.
Alternating Half-Locust is also done on all-fours. Sometime during the thirteenth to seventeenth week of pregnancy, mom will no longer feel comfortable on her stomach because of the growing “baby bump.”
This exercise is an excellent alternative to the Pilates exercises normally done on the tummy. Keep your back level and your abs gently pulled upward against your spine while you raise your right arm straight out in front of you and your left leg straight out behind you.
Keep your neck neutral, and don’t raise your limbs any higher than your hips and shoulders. Think about length, not height.
Imagine you are being pulled in two opposite directions like the rope in a game of tug-of-war. Breathe out as you lift your limbs, tightening your abs; breathe in as you lower your limbs.
Start with four on each side (right arm, left leg … left arm, right leg) and work up to 15 reps every other day.
The bent dumbbell row will strengthen both the upper and lower back. When lifting weights, it is especially crucial for pregnant women to breathe deeply.
Holding your breath is known as the “Valsava Maneuver,” and it will raise your blood pressure. Unless you are accustomed to heavier weights, use small dumbbells, starting with one to five pounds in each hand.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, feeling a sense of sturdiness. Soften the knees so they are just a little bent and not locked.
Lean forward, hinging at the hips, letting your arms hang down, sticking out your chest, and pulling your shoulder-blades together. You should look like you are ready to swing a golf club.
Breathe out as you lift your elbows up behind you, like you are rowing. Your wrists should graze your belly on both sides.
Inhale as you lower the dumbbells until your arms are straight again. Focus on the image of squishing a ripe banana between your shoulder blades, because that is where you want to feel this exercise.
The shoulder bridge is done on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Press your arms gently into the floor, palms down at your sides, while you lift your hips as high into the air as you can.
You can do simple up-and-down motions, you can pulse your hips at the top for a few counts, and you could also try balancing on just one foot. Squeeze a few Kegels in, too, by pinching a piece of paper between your knees while your hips are lifted.
With these exercises you can ensure that your back will stay strong and feeling well. Start today!
Ronald Pedactor has been involved with medicine for over 20 years. He specializes in spinal recovery medicine and recommends this Utah Chiropractor for all your back needs.