As a pregnant mom, you know better than anyone the demands your body is being put under—especially your spine, abdominal muscles and torso, often leading to strain, discomfort, and even pain in the lower back. And one way to alleviate this pressure is through physiotherapy exercises for lower back pain.
Unfortunately, many women try to alleviate lower back pain symptoms during pregnancy the wrong way (relying on over-the-counter medications, reducing physical activity levels too much, or simply trying to “tough it out”).
This can often lead to further discomfort and even long-term problems. However, with the right exercise program and professional medical advice, you can reduce your lower back pain problems during your pregnancy and beyond.
In this article, we will discuss 5 physical therapist recommended exercises best for pregnant women to find lower back pain relief.
5 Best Physio Exercises for Lower Back Pain When You’re Pregnant
Different physiotherapy exercises can help relieve lower back pain during every stage of pregnancy. Support the changes your body is going through with these 5 physiotherapy exercises for lower back pain.
1. Pelvic Tilts
Pelvic tilts are a fantastic exercise throughout pregnancy, especially for stretching and strengthening the lower back and abdominal muscles. You can also improve and maintain good hip mobility. Additionally, pelvic tilts may help to induce labour in the late stages of pregnancy.
Pelvic tilts are ideal for pregnancy’s first, second, and third trimesters.
How to Do a Pelvic Tilt During Pregnancy
To do a pelvic tilt, start by lying on your back with your knees bent towards the ceiling, feet flat on the floor.
Inhale deeply. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone under and flatten your back against the floor. Imagine trying to push your belly button towards your spine or floor.
Hold this position for 5 counts before relaxing. Repeat 10 times. You can also do pelvic tilts while standing or sitting on an exercise/birthing ball.
Kegels are best known as strengthening exercises for the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for labour and delivery. However, they’re also beneficial for relieving lower back pain during pregnancy. Kegel exercises target pelvic floor muscles supporting the lower back. Essentially, the more support the lower back has, the less likely it is to experience pain.
Kegels strengthen the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine. You should perform Kegels in all stages of pregnancy, as well as beyond, for long-term benefits.
How to Do a Kegel Exercise
You can benefit from kegel exercises anytime, anywhere. When you’re ready to begin your exercise, simply squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and hold them tight for 5 – 10 seconds. Relax.
Repeat 7 – 10 times.
Learn More About Physiotherapy Exercises for Back Pain and Other Pregnancy-Related Aches:
3. Bird Dog
The Bird Dog exercise helps to strengthen your lower back. Strong lower back muscles can help prevent lower back pain during pregnancy. Bird Dog exercises are an excellent alternative to lower back exercises not recommended while pregnant, such as planks.
Bird Dog exercises are safe to do at all stages of pregnancy. However, use caution in your last trimester of pregnancy—you may lose your balance more easily.
How to Do a Bird Dog Exercise
Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale deeply. As you exhale, raise your right arm forward and your left leg back until parallel with the floor. Return your limbs to the starting position.
Start again, but this time, raise your left arm and right leg. Repeat until you’ve completed 10 – 12 sets on each side.
Note: If raising an arm and a leg simultaneously is too tricky or causes you to become unstable, modify the exercise by lifting one leg at a time and leaving the arm down for support.
4. Cat Pose
With the Cat pose, you can tighten abdominal muscles while releasing upper and lower back tension. This is a modification of the Cat-Cow stretch that is safe to perform during all stages of pregnancy.
How to Do a Cat Pose
Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale deeply, and as you do so, round your back and tuck your chin to your chest until you feel a stretch in your back. Exhale and return your spine to a neutral position.
Repeat 10 times.
Note: Avoid the “Cow” portion typically performed with this stretch. This can add undue strain on the lower back, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. After childbirth, it’s safe to resume the entire Cat-Cow combination, as it’s also a wonderful postpartum stretch.
5. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a resting position that can help you stretch your back and release tension in the spine brought on by pregnancy. This is also a good time for you to practice relaxation breathing techniques.
This exercise is safe for all stages of pregnancy, but will likely require modifications in the third trimester.
How to Do Child’s Pose
To do Child’s Pose, start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Make sure your spine is in a neutral position, not curving towards the floor. Inhale deeply.
As you exhale, sit back on your heels and lower your forehead to the floor. You can also extend your arms out in front of you if that’s comfortable. Hold this position for 5 counts before returning to all fours.
Note: Do not put your weight on your abdomen. If you cannot lower your head all the way to the floor, use a pillow, chair, birthing ball or another prop to rest your head at a height that’s comfortable.
Physiotherapy For Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
Relieve your pain naturally with the help of our physiotherapists. At White Pine Health, our registered physiotherapists understand the unique physical changes that occur during pregnancy. We know how to help treat lower back pain and discomfort commonly experienced during each stage—from the beginning to the end.
We’ll work with you and your healthcare team to establish a plan of gentle physical therapy exercises for lower back pain that are best for you and your baby. Contact us today to book an appointment.