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Feature Article Ease Pregnancy Pain with Exercise & Posture

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For many pregnant women, the joy of pregnancy is often accompanied by new aches and pains. With the increased amount of hormones, the ligaments in a pregnant woman’s body begin to relax or loosen slightly to help make room for the growing baby. Changes to your center of gravity because of the growing baby can affect your posture, and your abdominal muscles can no longer support you the way they used to. All those factors mean that deep or sharp pain along the hips and buttocks, referred to as posterior pelvic pain, is a common complaint for women during pregnancy. 

“Most of the women I see with posterior pelvic pain benefit most from a combination of exercise, stretching and practicing good body mechanics,” said Stacy Mosbrucker, a physical therapist assistant at Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation – Corvallis. “You want to focus on strengthening your muscles and incorporating gentle movements that ease the aching. And ideally, it fits easily into your daily routine.”

Mosbrucker recommends these four movements to help with posterior pelvic pain:

Bird dog extension — Get on the floor on your hands and knees, with your wrists positioned directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Keep your back as straight as possible. Tighten your abdominal muscles to support your belly and extend your right arm straight in front of you to shoulder height and your left leg to hip height. Hold to the count of 5 and return to starting position. Switch to your left arm and right leg. Repeat each set 10 times. 

Pelvic tilt — You can do a pelvic tilt while standing on a firm surface or sitting on an exercise ball. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and tighten your abdominal muscles. Rotate your hips back and your pelvis forward so your tailbone is pointing toward the floor. Hold to the count of 5 and release. Repeat 10 times. 

Swimming — Swimming is a great exercise for pregnant women because the water supports your weight, which relieves the pressure on your back and joints. A leisurely swim or a prenatal water aerobics class are both beneficial. 

Good posture — It might take more concentration than before you were pregnant, but it is still important to keep your back straight, chin back and shoulders down. Make sure your abdominal muscles are supporting you as much as possible.

If you aren’t getting any relief from these exercises, Mosbrucker recommends a few visits with a physical therapist. The therapist can teach proper body alignment and positioning to help you get the biggest benefit.  

“There are a lot of changes that a woman’s body goes through while pregnant and then with a new baby. It makes sense that you might have to learn new body mechanic techniques,” said Mosbrucker.

Attend a Fitness During Pregnancy course that is offered quarterly and learn good posture, body mechanics, stretching and strengthening exercises to help relieve common pregnancy complaints.