Essential Ways To Alleviate Postpartum Back Pain
Back pain, both during pregnancy and after birth, has come to be expected and accepted by mothers around the world. It’s estimated that 50% of women who give birth experience significant back pain. And that’s in addition to all the other aches and pains that come along with pregnancy.
There are several possible causes for this back pain, including hormonal changes, weight gain, and mechanical issues. The good news is that we’ve gathered some science-backed essential ways to alleviate postpartum back pain. Read on to find out!
Postpartum Back Pain Types
The two major types of back pain are Pelvic Girdle pain and lumbar pain. Pelvic girdle pain is most common during pregnancy and is more prevalent than lumbar pain.
Pelvic Girdle pain is characterized by:
- A deep, stabbing pain.
- Constant or intermittent pain
- Radiating down the low back, thigh, and calf.
Lumbar pain, on the other hand, feels much the same during and after pregnancy as it does when you get run-of-the-mill lumbar pain. It’s characterized by:
- A dull ache in the low back.
- Possible pain radiating down the leg.
- Irritation from certain postures or too much sitting.
- Manageable and usually centralized pain around the spine.
Common Causes of Postpartum Back Pain
Pregnancy puts a lot of stress on a woman’s body and mind— both during and immediately after. Those hormones that help you give birth by loosening your joints and ligaments are one cause. Another is the necessarily-weakened abdominal muscles that play a big part in proper posture and trunk support.
Plus there’s the birth itself, which can exhaust muscles and cause aches and pains all over the place. New moms also tend to fight through the pain or not notice that their back gets tweaked every time they pick up their newborns.
While there’s not a whole lot you can do to totally prevent pregnancy-related back pain, there are a few things you can do to speed recovery and keep the pain from getting worse.
How to Limit Your Postpartum Back Pain
Before we get to the exercises to help you alleviate back pain, let’s talk about some things you can do before it’s a good idea to start exercising.
Mind Your Back
- When you go to lift your baby, try to engage those muscles around your trunk to keep your spine supported. This is easy to do by gently bracing those muscles in your core and back. Don’t forget to breathe normally when you do this.
Avoid the “Feeding Hunch”
- It’s easy to hunch your shoulders forward while feeding your baby, but it wreaks havoc on the back. Maintain a straight posture with your shoulders back when you feed. It will help you avoid further back pain.
- While too much bed rest isn’t good for most back pain, you can let yourself rest after your pregnancy. You’ve worked hard and accomplished something great! Now get some sleep (if you can) and rest those aching bones.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects in the months after your pregnancy. You need to give your body time to heal. Light exercise is okay for most, pending doctor’s approval, but lifting should be put off for as long as possible.
Tips and Exercises to Alleviate Postpartum Back Pain
Things to Know Before Your Exercise
- Listen to your body.
Exercise shouldn’t cause pain. It’s common for exercise to be slightly uncomfortable and difficult, but if you experience pain you should stop the exercise immediately.
- Take it slow.
You don’t want to overdo it. Start with something simple, like the Heel Slides exercise below, and then see how you feel.
- Slow and Steady Movements.
It’s important to be deliberate when exercising postpartum. Keep your movements fluid. If you can’t move your body deliberately during a specific exercise, you may want to consider doing something easier to improve your strength. Or, you may just need more rest.
Postpartum Back Pain Exercises
Core-strengthening exercises have been shown to help postpartum back pain significantly. But be sure to discuss any exercises with your doctor before you do them. Everyone’s body is different, and you don’t want to rush the exercise if you can help it. As a general rule, you can continue at the activity level you were practising before the pregnancy, as soon as you feel ready. However, it’s always best to consult a professional before you do so.
You may also consider chiropractic treatment for back pain. Many women benefit from natural chiropractic treatment following a pregnancy. Once you get permission, we’ve got a few you can choose from, all designed to alleviate pain in the back.
- Begin lying on your back with your legs brought toward your hips and your arms comfortably at your sides.
- Slide one foot along the floor or ground (you may need socks and hard floors to make this easier) and then allow your leg to extend out, the sole of your foot facing the wall.
- Bring your foot back into the starting position.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Do this exercise as much as feels comfortable at first. Once you feel this one is easy, move on to the next ones.
The Bird Dog Exercise
- Begin on your hands and knees where your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips.
- Raise one arm out ahead of you as if you’re reaching toward the wall.
- At the same time, raise the leg of the opposite side straight out behind you. If you raised your right arm, raise your left leg at the same time.
- Pause for 3 to 5 seconds with both limbs parallel to the floor.
- Release and bring the limbs back to the starting position slowly.
- Repeat with the other arm and leg.
- Perform all of the above a total of 8 to 10 times several days a week. Increase as you regain strength and energy.
The Bridge Exercise
- Begin by lying on your back with your arms comfortably at your sides and your legs brought toward your hips to make a triangle.
- Raise your hips toward the ceiling while keeping your feet, shoulder blades, arms, and head firmly on the floor.
- You should be flexing your glutes, back, and ab muscles and holding at the top of the movement for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Release and slowly bring your hips back down to the floor.
- Repeat 8 to 10 times several days a week. Increase as you regain strength and energy.