One of the conditions that we see commonly in women who’ve recently had a baby is lower back pain.
This can sometimes come as a surprise and even disappointment for new mums, as some of these women will have experienced lower back or pelvic pain during their pregnancies, and have eagerly awaited the birth of their child so they can start to ‘feel normal’ again.
Today’s post is designed to put this pain into perspective, give you the stats on what you can realistically expect, and provide you with some strategies you can implement to help manage any pain you may have.
Firstly, I want to reassure you that it is normal to experience lower back pain during this time.
Thinking about it logically- it took 9 months (give or take) for your back to adapt to pregnancy, then the huge adaptations your body makes during birth (which is compounded by healing from surgery if you had a C-Section*), and now you’re probably not really getting the sleep you need or time to focus on self help strategies to fully allow your body to heal.
So it is any wonder you’re not quite bouncing back straight away?
If you need any further convincing that this is normal, there is a study involving over 800 women, who were followed throughout pregnancy, and in the 12 months after giving birth. Two thirds of the women reported experiencing back pain directly after giving birth, and half of these reported experiencing some pain at their 6 week check up. The good news is, however, that most women had gone on to become pain free within 6 months.
So if you’re still in the early months of life as a mum, and still experiencing some pain, you’re not alone, and the odds are definitely in your favour for a full recovery over the coming months.
So, what can be done to speed up this process?
Aside from a treatment by your Lifespan Osteopath to help correct any remaining joint, ligament or muscle dysfunction, you might want to give some of the following a try:
1. T.A (transversus abdominus) muscle activation:
The T.A muscle makes up a large part of what most people call their “core”. It undergoes a lot of stretching throughout your pregnancy as your belly grows, and is often not as strong as it should be once you’ve had your baby. Strengthening this muscle has been shown to play a role in reducing chronic low back pain.
Undertanding how to do this correctly, and activating the correct muscle while not bracing others, can take time and practice. The easiest way to for me to show you how to do this correctly is via video, so please click here to watch my demonstration of this:
2. Gluteal muscle strengthening:
As your body readjusts to its non-pregnant state, your gluteal (or butt) muscles may be working overtime to try to stabilise your pelvis and hold everything together. The following two exercises are both designed to work these muscles in a different way.
You can do them laying on the floor next to your bub, who may think it’s fascinating to watch mum moving in a different way.
This exercise is designed to strengthen a muscle known as you “gluteus medium”, or “glut med” as it is more commonly known. This muscle helps stabilise your pelvis when one foot is lifted off the ground, such as when walking or going up and down stairs.
This exercise is designed to strengthen a muscle known as the “gluteus maximum”, or “glut max”, which is the largest of the buttock muscles. It’s job is to extend your hip, or move your leg backwards, and it helps with a lot of strength and stability in your lower back.
I apologise for the vertical camera angle on this one!
3. Pelvic rocking:
The aim of this exercise is to gently mobilise the structures around your pelvis and lower back. This one requires a bit of coordination, and I find that some people pick it up easier than others.
Think about bringing your tailbone towards you chin, not arching spine, gradually trying to lengthen out the space between each of the vertebrae in your lower back. Feel the gentle stretch that this provides, and then gradually return to your starting position.
You may find it helpful to think about your breathing while you do this- most people find it easiest to perform the movements while they are breathing out. Repeat 5-10x in each direction, and you should feel a greater sense of ease of movement once you’re done.
This combination of exercises is designed to strengthen and mobilise many of the structures around your pelvis and lower back.
Like with any exercise program, it may take a few weeks to start to notice any significant results.
Give them a try, and see what results they bring you.
If you’ve got any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be able to offer some advice for your specific condition.
* In the absence of examination by a qualified health professional, please ensure you have clearance from your Obstetric provider to exercise before performing these exercises if you have had a C-Section.