Preventing Back Pain During Pregnancy
By Dana Sullivan
Even as you celebrate your new curves, you may complain about the
aches and pains that accompany your pregnancy. Back pain probably tops
the list of a pregnant woman's gripes. "It's often caused by a shifting
of the center of gravity, and by the weight of the uterus on the pelvic
area," says Thomas Hanlon, author of Fit For Two: The Official YMCA Prenatal Exercise Guide (Human Kinetics).
stretching your back daily and doing a series of muscle-strengthening
exercises recommended by the YMCA Prenatal Exercise Project, you can
help minimize or avoid back pain altogether -- during pregnancy and
beyond. Always check with your physician before beginning a new
exercise program. And if you ever feel discomfort while doing the
exercises, stop immediately.
jog in place for five minutes to warm up. You can do the stretches
every day, but give your muscles 48 hours of rest in between the
strength-training moves that involve weights.
- Cat Back Stretch (to stretch your entire back) Get down on
all fours and flatten your back so your spine is aligned from your neck
to your tailbone. Now, arch your back slowly, starting at the tailbone
and stretching up through your shoulder blades. Hold for 5 seconds.
Relax to the neutral starting position. Repeat 5 times.
- Heel Sits (to stretch your lower back and buttocks) Get down on your knees and bend over, stretching your hands out before
you, palms flat on the floor. Slowly rock back onto your heels; as your
baby grows, move your knees wider apart to accommodate your tummy.
While sitting back, walk your fingers forward, increasing the stretch.
Stretch one arm at a time for increased flexibility. Hold for 20-30
seconds; repeat 2-3 times.
- Arm Raises (to strengthen shoulders and upper back) Get down
on all fours, making sure your back is flat (as in the Cat Stretch
described above). Raise your right arm straight out in front of you to
shoulder level. Hold for 5 seconds. Lower and repeat 10 times. Switch
arms and repeat. When this becomes easy, add a second set. Holding a 1-
or 2-pound dumbbell or wearing wrist weights will make the exercise
even more challenging.
- Overhead Pull-Down (to strengthen your middle and lower back)
Stand with your knees relaxed and extend your arms up and over your
head. Imagine that you're holding a barbell in your hands. Now pull
your arms down, bending your elbows out to the sides until your hands
are shoulder height. The "bar" should be behind your head. Return to
the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times, and complete 3 sets. When
this become easy, hold a 1- or 2- dumbbell in each hand.
- Upright Row (to strengthen your shoulder and upper back muscles)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees relaxed. Let
your arms relax at your sides, palms facing back. Now pull your elbows
up and back until they are at shoulder height. Contract your muscles in
order to resist the movement. Now lower to the starting position.
Repeat 10-15 times. Complete 3 sets. When this become easy, hold a 1-
or 2- dumbbell in each hand.