Why Regular Exercise is Important for Back Health during Pregnancy

While there are many things you should avoid during pregnancy, exercise is not one of them. In fact, exercise can be very beneficial to support a healthy pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy is also critical for back health. During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes. Two of these changes are a shift in the body’s center of gravity and excess weight accumulating around the abdomen. Both of these changes can cause the spinal column to naturally bend forward, which will eventually lead to lower back pain. Not only does regular exercise during pregnancy help eliminate lower back pain, it is a useful tool in weight management, spinal strength, and spinal flexibility.

Weight Management
Although you do need to gain weight for a healthy pregnancy, weight management can still be important. There is a fine line between eating enough to support your body weight and the baby’s, and eating so much that you gain excess weight—your doctor can help determine what is a healthy amount of weight gain for your body type and circumstances. Extra weight places additional strain on your back. This is the reason that finding the right balance between eating and exercise is important. If you can keep your weight at a healthy level, it will lessen the risk of back pain. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, water aerobics, and yoga can help with back pain and weight management.
pregnancy ultrasound
Strengthening the Back
Regular exercise during pregnancy also strengthens the muscles around the back. As these muscles are strengthened, they provide extra support for the spinal cord. This strengthens the entire vertebral column of the back. As the spinal column is strengthened, it allows the spine to support excess weight and compensate for the body’s shift in gravity. Exercises such as stretching, yoga, and low-impact aerobic exercises are good for strengthening the back.

Maintaining Spinal Flexibility
Finally, participating in regular exercise throughout your pregnancy can help maintain spinal flexibility. Another complaint from women is the further they are in their pregnancy, the harder it is to bend over. This may be caused by the excess weight around the abdomen. If the spine is not strong enough or flexible enough to support this extra weight while bending, then it may cause pain. When you exercise to improve spinal flexibility, it may be easier to bend, stretch, and perform other activities throughout your day. Stretching and yoga are very helpful in maintaining spinal flexibility.

Acceptable Exercises
There are many different types of exercise that are generally considered safe during pregnancy. These include stretching, low-impact aerobic exercises, and more. Each of these types of exercise can benefit back health. To maintain your spine’s flexibility, try regular stretching exercises. These can include the pelvic tilt, side-to-side stretches, front-to-back stretches, hip rotation, waist rotation, and more. To maintain the strength of your spine, consider walking, bicycling, yoga, and other gentle exercises. If back pain is already a problem during your pregnancy, you could also try water aerobics. Spinal specialists such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest often recommend water aerobics for patients experiencing back pain, because it has a very low level of impact on the back.

Exercises to Strengthen the Spinal Column During Pregnancy

Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy, but do you know what is causing your pain? It is believed there are two factors that contribute to back pain during pregnancy. First, the body is going through many changes, one of them being weight gain. This extra weight must be supported by the spinal column. When the spinal column cannot support the weight, it naturally curves—potentially resulting in back pain. The second reason back pain may be experienced is because the body’s center of gravity shifts. As weight accumulates around the abdomen, the spinal column can compensate by bending forward, again resulting in back pain.

Fortunately, there are many types of exercise that can strengthen the spinal column during pregnancy. These include twisting, bending, and other types of mild exercise. For additional exercises that may benefit your spinal column, speak to a spinal specialist such as Dr. Solomon of the Spine Institute Northwest. While these exercises are considered to be safe for healthy pregnant women, before beginning them it is still important to clear any exercise regimen with a physician.

Expecting mother

Waist Rotation
Waist rotation helps to maintain spinal alignment and mobility during pregnancy. Keep your hips stationary and bend slightly forward. Be sure you are bending at your waist. Rotate the upper body several times both clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Hip Rotation
Hip rotation is very similar to waist rotation. Place yourself in the same position as you did with the waist rotation exercise, again bending slightly forward at the waist. The key difference is that you will be keeping your upper body stationary, instead of your hips. Rotate your hips clockwise and then counter-clockwise several times.

Side-to-Side Spinal Stretch
To do the side-to-side stretch, begin in the same position as you did with the hip and waist rotation. Bend at the waist as far as you can to the left, and then to the right. You should bend as far as you feel comfortable, without moving your hips. Repeat this exercise several times for the most effectiveness.

Forward-to-Back Spinal Stretch
Begin with the fingers at the base of the spine, with your left hand at the left of the spine and right hand at the right of the spine. Bend your body slightly forward from your waist. Then, bend your body backwards, pushing forward with your fingers in the same motion. As you bend backward, you should also raise your heels off of the floor. Work your fingers up the spine, bend forward, and repeat the process until you’ve gone as high as is comfortable.

Torso Twist
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder’s width apart with your arms extended outward at your sides. Twist from the waist up to the left, and then to the right. Keep a slow, steady pace, avoiding any sudden movements. Make sure that you keep your head facing in the direction that you are turning.

Pelvic Rock
Begin on the floor on your hands and knees. Your back should be flat and your spine should be parallel to the floor. To do the exercise, tense your lower abdominal muscles as you squeeze the buttocks. Rock the pelvis forward as you tilt the pubic bone toward your chin. Hold the position and feel the stretch until you are ready to release. This should be done 10-20 times.