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During pregnancy we experience many different kinds of sensations, some pleasant and some ... not so. Many of us experience some sort of back pain during our pregnancies. The good news is that it’s natural and that your baby is growing! It is very common with occurrences as high as 60-70%. There are a plethora of reasons for back pains during pregnancy but some of the most common include:
During a healthy pregnancy, women are expected to gain anywhere between 12-25kgs. This added weight on the spine in such a quick amount of time may cause lower back pain due to the increased load the spine has to support.
Due to bub sitting right inside our uterus, it can cause a shift in the centre of gravity forward. This shifting centre of gravity can change the way you move and put strain through your body.
During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin which allows the separation of the pelvis to accommodate the child during child birth. This increased laxity within the pelvis can cause pain
As the baby grows the belly has to accommodate for this growth too. The abdominal muscles will separate in the centre. This separation may worsen back pain.
Emotional stress can cause hypersensitivity and increased tension in your back. You may feel more back pain when you are going through stressful periods of your pregnancy.
Physiotherapy is a good way to help prevent and manage ongoing back pain during pregnancy. A physiotherapist can identify the particular muscle that is causing you pain and can give you management strategies on how to cope with it. Soft tissue and joint mobilisation techniques have been shown to drastically reduce pain as well. As well as being hands on, a physiotherapist can prescribe ad cater specific exercises that will reduce your back pain, they can also recommend what type of external support to use during severe flare ups.
DRA is the acronym for diastasis of the rectus abdominal muscles, which is the separation that occurs during pregnancy to the abdominal muscles, to allow the baby to grow. This DRA occurs usually in the second and third trimester of pregnancy and can remain post pregnancy. It is suggested that post-natal DRA can lead to lower back pain and pelvic instability, and even develop urinary incontinence
The “acceptable” level of separation is less than 2 fingers at the level just below the belly button. You can check how much separation you have with this simple test:
1. Lay down on a hard surface with your knees bent and place a small cushion under your head.
2. Slide your fingers down towards your belly button and sink your fingers into your belly as you pass your belly button
3. As you pass below your belly button slowly sink 3 of your fingers into your tummy feeling your tummy muscles touch the side of your finger
4. Lift your head and bring your chin towards your chest to tighten the abdominals
5. Feel your abdominals squeeze your fingers, slowly remove each finger until you can feel your abdominals slightly pressing on the side of your fingers
6. Whatever fingers remain is approximately how many cm of separation you have
7. It is good to check the area just above and below your belly button too
The categorization of DRA is as follows:
· Normal < 2 fingers
· Mild DRA 2-3 fingers
· Moderate DRA 3-4 fingers
· Severe DRA > 4 fingers
Is there a way to manage this?
YES!!! The best ways to manage DRA during and post pregnancy involves movement education ie learning how to reconnect with your body and allow the deep muscles of your core to learn to work as a team once more. In more sever circumstances external supports may be useful and of course as a last resort surgery is an option.
While activity modifications can be useful in the short term and involve learning how to get in and out of deep chairs and bed, in the long term it is essential to relearn how too effectively and efficiently control and move your body. Exercises that help this learning journey include Pilates - for a more detailed outline of a Pilates journey post pregnancy please read our 'Exercise After Pregnancy' - these sessions will educate your on gentle core activation and pelvic floor exercises and ensure you are doing these exercises correctly!
External supports can help mimic the function of the abdominals, simple supports such as tubi grips and recovery shorts have been known to help.
It is always advised to seek our professional help when it comes to the management and education of DRA at BPS we have a variety of experienced women's health physio's who can help your with finding a solution that works for you, if you would like more information please don't hesitate to ask us a question here!
NEW Class Times!
Pre-Natal 9am SATURDAY WITH ELISSE
Mums and Bubs 10.30am THURSDAY WITH KAI
Mums and Bubs 10am WEDNESDAY
Pre-Natal 9am THURSDAY
To FIND OUT more about our variety of pre- and post-natal classes and upcoming workshops get in touch today.
During pregnancy Pilates builds your core strength by strengthening the back, abdominals and pelvic floor muscles. These all help support your changing posture during pregnancy and decrease the likelihood of backache, pelvis pain and hip issues. Pre natal Pilates is adaptable, so the exercises can be modified to accommodate your stage of pregnancy.
We’ve all heard of kegal exercises and their importance in assisting vaginal childbirth and recovery and in preventing prolapse by strengthening the pelvic floor. Pilates is more than just kegals, we work to strengthen your whole body and relax your mind. You can build your endurance and stamina in preparation for labour and beyond. During labour when you’ve been squatting or standing for hours on end you’ll be glad you did your prenatal Pilates! And all those repetitive instructions to focus on your breathing will definitely come in handy.
In the first few months after having your baby, it is important to work on postural changes that occur from nursing and carrying your little one around. Clients often discover Pilates after sustaining neck or back pain post birth. We would love it if all new mums built up their strength in preparation before the birth of their baby, however Post natal Pilates is a great way to get back in shape. We focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles as well as gradually regaining strength in a safe and effective way. Too often women rush to loose their baby weight and cause themselves significant injury by running or lifting heavy weights too soon after vaginal birth.
Mothers come in all ages, shapes and sizes and if high impact exercise or weights are your favorite type of exercise, great! We want you to be doing physical activities you enjoy, but in a safe way.
Our Physiotherapists and Pilates instructors are specifically trained to guide you in activating your Transverse Abdominus and Pelvic Floor muscles so you can run and lift to your hearts contentment. More than that, they are experts in helping you understand how to strengthen and reconnect with your whole body after pregnancy, after all motherhood is hard work and we need to look after our bodies to ensure we can be there for our little ones!
When it comes to Pregnancy and Exercise, it's not unusual to be a little confused about what you should be doing? Let our women's health Physiotherapists and Pilates instructors help clarify for you!
If there are two words which cause much tension between women and physicians alike it's pregnancy exercise. Should you exercise while pregnant? And if so, how much is too much and exactly what type of exercise is advisable?
1) Should you Exercise while Pregnant?
While no two women are alike, the consensus is that exercising while pregnant is definitely a win! Not only does it help to support your body throughout pregnancy and help prepare your body for the physical process of labour, it also does a lot for the psychological and social/spiritual aspects of child birth and the journey into motherhood. Movement releases endorphins 'feel good' hormones into our blood stream, and with all the crazy pregnancy hormones travelling around your system during pregnancy a little feel good pick me up is a pleasant change!
2) What kind of Exercise is best while pregnant?
The more important questions is not whether or not to exercise during pregnancy but what kind of exercise is the most appropriate during pregnancy? Given each female body is very different and the changes a womens body goes through during the three trimesters of pregnancy are equally as different, there is no blanket exercise which works best for all. The benefits of a tailored program can not be overstated here and this is where Pilates comes into it's own. With the use of a variety of equipment and props, Pilates allows for appropriate positioning to ensure comfort and safety for mum and bub, and as bub grows these positions can be changed accordingly to ensure the maximal benefit is received with the minimum risk.
3) What do you ned to consider when exercises while Pregnant that you didn't need to think about before?
Pregnancy brings with it a variety of changes for the mothers body, from increased amounts of relaxin (one of the main hormones responsible for increasing join flexibility to allow for birth), to the need for greater water intake due to a larger blood volume, sensitivities to heat, increased swelling, increased load placed on the mothers cardiovascular system and the list goes on. For these reasons there are a few considerations when it comes to choosing the right expertise for you. It's important you take extra care to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts, try to avoid working out in the heat of the day or choosing classes which may promote 'hot' environments (various types of hot yoga). As you progress it's also important to consider how long you can lye on your back for, as the increased load on your abdomen often means blood flow to your heart is compromised and uncomfortable. An experienced womens health movement expert will be able to help you through these movement decisions and is one of the reasons specific prenatal classes are preferable over a generic exercise class when you are pregnant.
4) Pilates or Yoga for Pregnancy Exercise?
This is a question which has been answered time and time again and it's a hard one because no two Pilates instructor or yoga teachers are the same. When it comes down to it, the decision comes back to what is it that you are trying to achieve! Pilates in the studio uses equipment and because of this can be incredibly helpful for women in the later terms of their pregnancy where lying flat on their back on the floor is not comfortable (or advisable). The use of the Pilates brings means instructors can ensure you have the optimal positioning and tension for your workout, making the session both more effective and a much more enjoyable experience for you and bub. The use of the Pilates equipment means that exercises and stretches can be made more or less challenging depending on the capabilities and need of the individual.
Yoga on the other hand incorporates many spiritual aspects and because of this plays a great role in preparing the mother emotionally for the journey she is embarking on. Yoga flows can help to take the body through gentle ranges increasing the flexibility of certain joints, however it should be mentioned that this focus on 'flexibility and stretching' can be dangerous as the mothers relaxin levels increase and joints become neutrally more flexible. It is therefore important you understand the needs and abilities of your own body when deciding if Pilates or Yoga pregnancy exercises is right for you. It's always a good idea to get a professional opinion, your Physiotherapist is a great resources for helping guide you through the decision making process.
5) How does Pilates Equipment assist Pregnancy Exercise?
The Pilates equipment supports the changes a womens body goes through during pregnancy. By being able to adjust resistance, height, set up, support and movement direction, any exercise can be modified or made more challenging to suit the body it's assisting. It also allows for a variety of movement positions (which is incredibly helpful in later pregnancy) every exercise can be done in every plane of movement, so if you need to avoid lying on your back or standing for long periods of time this can be easily achievable.
Want to start your Pilates Journey? Our Physiotherapists, Pilates Instructors and Yoga teachers are here to help.