shutterstock_125826716Approximately 70 percent of all women experience some degree of back pain during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer the entire time. These tips can help!

Good Posture

Why it works: A bulging pregnant belly shifts your center of gravity out from your body. Often without realizing it, you let your lower back be pulled forward into a swayback posture, making back muscles short, tight, and painful. Standing up straight allows muscles to naturally lengthen and stretch, making good posture one of the easiest “exercises” for easing lower back pain.

How to do it: Arrange your different body parts in perfect alignment from the top down. Roll your shoulders back and lift your rib cage. Position your head so your ears are in line with your shoulders. Contract abdominal muscles (feels like drawing your belly button closer to your spine) and flatten your back to position hips. For better support and balance, stand with your knees slightly flexed. “Maintain this position by imagining a cord pulling you from above,” says Amanda Larson, a prenatal yoga instructor in Portland, Maine.

shutterstock_190918403Lower Back Extensions

Why it works: Abdominal and back muscles normally work together to support your body’s midsection. As abdominal muscles become increasingly lax in order to accommodate a growing uterus, back muscles compensate by working much harder. Lower back extensions safely strengthen back muscles during pregnancy, making their tough work a little easier (and less painful for you).

How to do it: Get down on your hands and knees. Larson recommends placing an exercise mat underneath you for comfort and support. Keep your elbows slightly flexed (not locked) and your back straight. Extend your right arm out in front of you at shoulder height. Extend your left leg out behind you at hip height. Contract your abdominal muscles. Hold this position for five counts, advises Larson. Repeat 10 to 20 times on both sides. For best results, start performing this exercise early on in pregnancy.

Prenatal Yoga

Why it works:
Prenatal yoga is a relaxing way to tone parts of the body most affected by pregnancy, including the back. “Almost every yoga posture I teach engages back muscles, providing a gentle but effective workout to stretch sore muscles and strengthen the lower back,” says Larson.

How to do it: Can’t make it to class? Get pain relief fast with child’s pose, a very basic yoga position. Kneel on the floor with legs spread apart. Sit back on your heels. Tuck your chin down to your chest, and with arms extended, bend forward until your forehead, forearms, and elbows are resting on the floor. Your belly should easily fit between your legs. If not, spread your knees wider. Hold this stretch for up to one minute. Breathe naturally. Adds Larson, “This position promotes relaxation and can instantly relieve lower back tension.”

shutterstock_103888262Pelvic Tilts

Why it works: Pelvic tilts (also called “pelvic rocking”) strengthen abdominal muscles, relieve backache, and help improve posture. “Abdominal muscles do relax somewhat during pregnancy, but keeping them toned can still go a long way in alleviating back strain,” says Larson.

How to do it: Get down on all fours. Keep your elbows slightly bent and back flat (visualize your back as a coffee table). Contract your abdominal muscles and rotate your pelvis so your tailbone is pointing toward the floor. Hold for a count of five and then release. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Pelvic tilts can also be done lying down on your back (until the 20th week of pregnancy) and leaning against a wall, using the same basic rock and hold motion.

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Source: www.babyzone.com; Jacqueline Tourville.