Friday, May 10, 2013

Back Pain During Pregnancy: Can Prenatal Pilates Help?

Back pain accompanies every stage of pregnancy for many women. From conception to delivery, the body undergoes significant changes.

Very soon after conception, the body begins releasing the hormone relaxin. This causes ligaments and joints in the pelvis to loosen, making room for baby. Since the pelvis is the foundation of the spine, pelvic instability can lead to back pain. An unstable pelvis also encourages postural changes that lead to back pain.

As the pregnancy proceeds, abdominal muscles loosen to make room for the growing womb. The pelvic floor, a group of muscles, ligaments and tissues that stretches from the pubic bone to the base of the spine, also stretches out as the baby grows. These changes leave the lower back muscles alone to handle the task of supporting the spine and the upper body's weight.

Finally, as the baby grows to full size, your center of gravity changes. This can alter posture significantly, causing muscle aches, strains and fatigue.

How Prenatal Pilates Can Help

Pilates is a popular form of exercises that focuses on developing core strength through body awareness and exercise. One of its major benefits is that, like yoga, Pilates is highly adaptable.

You may want to consider attending a prenatal Pilates course during your pregnancy. Its benefits include increasing pelvic stability by keeping the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as strong as possible, maintaining flexibility in the back muscles and spine through stretching and enhancing pain management abilities through mental focus and breathing exercises.

First, talk to your doctor or midwife to make sure there is no special circumstance that would bar you from Pilates practice.

Next, seek out a prenatal Pilates class with a qualified instructor. You can look for classes at community centers, gyms, fitness clubs and YMCAs. You'll want to take a class where the instructor can offer plenty of individual attention. This is important; prenatal Pilates is very safe, but only when performed properly. As your body changes throughout pregnancy, your program will need to be altered.

For example, overstretching is a concern for pregnant women. This is because relaxin has made muscles, ligaments and joints very loose. Women are more susceptible to muscle strains late in pregnancy. A prenatal Pilates instructor can guide you as to the types of movements that are safe and beneficial for you along the way.

While you can't stop the changes your body goes through during pregnancy, you can take steps to manage the painful effects they have on your body. Prenatal Pilates is a great way to increase strength and overall well-being during your pregnancy. Pilates can help make this very special time more comfortable.

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