You may be confused why you’re experiencing so much back pain during your first trimester. After all, you’re not even showing!
However, during your first trimester of pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released to prepare your body to grow and expand with your baby. This hormone loosens your ligaments, which is why many women experience severe early pregnancy back pain.
Fortunately, you don’t have to accept back pain as the “new normal” for the remainder of your pregnancy. The following five exercises can help you relieve early pregnancy back pain by keeping your spine mobile, body symmetrical, and back in perfect alignment.
1. Belly Breathing
Belly breathing, otherwise known as diaphragmic breathing, is an awareness exercise that helps you become mindful of your breathing patterns.
When our breathing is limited to short, shallow breaths in our chest, we don’t allow our diaphragm and pelvic floor to synchronize. It’s vital to engage and strengthen our pelvic floor muscles to keep them strong and mobile, even when we’re breathing. When you don’t practice mindful breathing, your pelvic floor will shorten and tighten, resulting in early pregnancy back pain and further discomfort during delivery.
Cat-cow is a stretch that moves the spine forward and backward to alleviate back pain and improve posture and balance. This movement is perfect for performing after doing a few deep breathing exercises while you’re lying down. Begin to arch your back as you inhale slowly, and then exhale as you drop back to the floor. Perform this movement slowly, at your own pace, and repeat at least ten times.
Once you’ve finished the cat-cow exercise, you can modify the movement into a bridge exercise by raising your pelvic floor even higher if the movement is comfortable for you.
3. Lateral Hip Raises
Lateral hip raises, also known as “wag the tail,” is another spinal exercise. However, instead of moving your spine forward and backward as you do during the cat-cow movement, this position moves your spine from left to right.
Like cat-cow, begin this pose on your back. Then, you start “wagging” your lower spine from side to side in a slow, controlled motion. Slowly swing your hips to one side, then return to a neutral position, and then turn your hips to the other side, then return to a neutral position again. Perform this movement at least ten times on each side. If you feel tighter on one side, you can do a few extra repetitions to loosen it.
This movement relieves pain in the lower back and hips. Usually, women experience the most relief from early pregnancy back pain when they do this position early in the morning, right after waking up, and before bed. You can also perform this exercise on your hand and knees.
4. Cat-Cow on Your Knees
Now that we’ve finished the cat-cow motion on our back, it’s time to practice the same movement, but this time, using gravity to our advantage—on our knees.
Begin this position on your hands and knees in a table position with a neutral spine. As you inhale, move your body up into the “cow” pose by pressing your chest forward, lifting your head and tailbone, and allowing your belly to drop. Then, as you exhale, move your body down into the “cat” position by rounding your spine out, tucking your tailbone in, and letting your head relax down. Repeat this motion slowly and mindfully at least ten times.
This exercise is safe and effective for improving spinal mobility, stretching the tailbone, and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles to relieve early pregnancy back pain. As your center of gravity moves forward with your growing baby, your spinal muscles grow tighter to compensate for the shift. This exercise keeps these muscles mobile and relaxed, which will help to minimize pain and tension in your back.
5. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a popular stretch that targets your back and muscles around your hips, making it an ideal exercise to relieve early pregnancy back pain.
To perform this pose, kneel and sit on your heels. Then, lean forward, still sitting on your heels while resting your forehead down with palms face down, arms stretched out on the floor in front of you. Your arms should be aligned with the placement of your legs. Once you’re in this position, inhale slowly and deeply.
Since this exercise engages your entire body from the hips to the wrists, it helps relax and stretch your spine, shoulders, and upper back.
Experience Relief from Pregnancy Back Pain with Moment of Truth Physical Therapy
Now that you know these movements, we recommend incorporating a ten-minute routine in your morning and evening to perform cat-cow, lateral hip raises, and child’s pose exercises to relieve pregnancy back pain.
And whenever you think of breathing throughout your day, stop for a moment to take a few deep breaths, engaging all the muscles in your diaphragm and pelvic floor.
Schedule your free discovery session with our team at Moment of Truth Physical Therapy in Peoria, Arizona, to learn more helpful tips for managing your early pregnancy back pain!