Relief from the “Back Pain” of Motherhood
Motherhood and back or neck pain seem to go hand in hand. Ever wonder why? Well, there are structural and hormonal influences contributing to the infamous back pain, and there are also remedies for them.
How it begins: During pregnancy, the expanding uterus elongated and essentially rendered the abdominal (stomach) muscles useless. The abdominal muscles play an essential role in stabilizing the spine. When this trunk support is lessened, other body parts then try to compensate and are used improperly or overused.
Back muscles and ligaments, for example, too often pay the price for these weakened stomach muscles.
Particularly following a pregnancy, special attention needs to be paid to re-educating and strengthening the abdominals and pelvic floor muscles. Without this attention, the overstretched muscles only partially function, and a cascade of misalignment, overuse injuries, and musculoskeletal problems progress over the years.
However, there is good news.
It is never too late! Whether you do it for vanity purposes – the flat or at least flatter belly, or you do it for your health and to be pain-free, just do it. This is not a Nike ad, however, nor is it about being an athlete. It is about protecting your spine, becoming pain-free, and allowing mothers to be fully available and capable of caring for their little ones.
In addition to re-training the stomach and pelvic muscles, women (particularly new mothers) can remedy back pain through proper body mechanics and posture. Even up to six months after pregnancy the body is still producing the hormone, Relaxin. This hormone is responsible for creating ligament laxity (soft ligaments) and therefore further reduces core stability. This is particularly felt along with the sacral ligaments of the low back. In order to protect the spine against this decreased support, it is crucial to lift properly and maintain good posture throughout all activities of daily living.
1) Keep the back as straight as possible when lifting. Bend at the knees and use the legs as the source of power for the action.
2) Hold all objects against the body or as close as possible keeping the arms to your side.
3) Avoid twisting, particularly bending and twisting together.
4) Push rather than pull.
5) Tighten the stomach when lifting or carrying.
6) Take small frequent breaks and find time to rest! Take care of yourself.
Pelvic tilts, Kegel exercises, and walking are three basic ways to restore and maintain a healthy spine. Do not underestimate the healing power of a little exercise.
Most mothers find it difficult to find time for themselves. However, everyone can do these basic three things.
1) The pelvic tilt exercise can be done to release back tension. Pelvic tilts are done lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the bed or floor. Press your heels into the ground to initiate the roll of the pelvis towards your head as you flatten your low back into the bed or floor. Your stomach muscles can gently assist this flattening of your spine. Ideally, you would draw your belly button down towards the floor as you tighten your stomach. Imagine you are tightening against someone poking your belly. Make sure to breathe as you hold this position for 5 seconds and then SLOWLY return to neutral and repeat 10 times.
2) A basic Kegel exercise can be done while going to the bathroom. Simply practice stopping the flow of urination a few times during the stream. This upward movement of the pelvic floor contracts and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. This can also be performed lying on your back while you practice your pelvic tilts.
3) Take a short walk while maintaining a proper upright posture. Imagine yourself lengthening upward to grow taller from the base of your spine to the back of your head. Try to walk landing clearly on each heel and then roll through the ball of the foot to push off on the first and second toes. Think heel-ball-toe as you lengthen up and walk. Start with 5 minutes if you can and add just one minute a day.
Truly speaking every new mom should retrain their TVA muscle. The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the four abdominal muscles and represents the essential core. TVA activation is one of many muscles explained and taught in my Do-It-Yourself PT programs. Here is a quick talk on why the TVA is essential how to begin to activate it.
Tags: kegel exercise for mothers | motherhood | motherhood back pain | motherhood back pain exercises | motherhood back pain helpful tips | motherhood back pain relief | new mothers back pain remedy | pelvic tilt exercise for mothers
Copyright © by Kimberly DelVecchio, PT
Kimberly DelVecchio, Licensed Physical Therapist, is the owner of Integrative Physical Therapy in Clifton Park NY, a comprehensive physical therapy clinic specializing in orthopedic health issues. IPT: 1 Barney Rd. suite 120 Clifton Park, NY 12065.