Certain types of exercise can lower the risk of back pain during pregnancy.
“Up to 60 percent of all pregnant women have some back pain,” said Dr. Raul Artal, a professor emeritus in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. “Women who engage in exercises to prevent low back pain experience less low back pain, and those who have it can engage in those exercises to ameliorate it.”
Back pain during pregnancy comes from the more pronounced curvature of the spine that results when the abdomen expands and alters a woman’s center of gravity.
“Every single textbook of obstetrics will have some mention of lower back pain,” Dr. Artal said. “It’s a very common complaint.”
“Strengthening of abdominal and back muscles could minimize this risk,” the report says.
“Despite the fact that pregnancy is associated with profound anatomic and physiologic changes, exercise has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in physical activities before, during and after pregnancy.”
Simple exercises can ease back pain, including arching the spine back and forth like a cat on the floor or standing with the back to a wall, knees bent and trying to straighten the spine.
In addition to specific exercises that target strengthening of abdominal and back muscles, such as sit-ups, the report offers examples of safe and unsafe physical activities during pregnancy. Walking, swimming, stationary cycling and low-impact aerobics are among those deemed safe. And, Dr. Artal said, water exercise reduces strain on the joints, so it is beneficial to those with back, knee or joint pain