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by Alison Durant

If you are suffering back pain, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

With over sixteen years of practicing Osteopathy, I have seen a large number of women who have encountered back symptoms, and I have even had my own back issues post pregnancy.  So I was delighted when Queen’s Park Mums asked me to share a few helpful exercises to help you pre and post part ladies overcome the pain.

Back pain in the months and years after having children is a fairly common occurrence.  Our abdominal muscles have been lengthened during pregnancy, our spines assume a different position to accommodate the baby, and our pelvic floors are subject to significant forces bearing down on them.  Add to that the tears and surgical incisions that are often part of the birth process, followed by the physical challenges of lifting and carrying our newborn and pushing a pram around, and it is little wonder that our backs complain.

In the event of acute back pain, it’s always advisable to seek the help of a physical therapist as you may need some help with your alignment post-pregnancy, particularly in relation to the trunk and pelvis.  But a low level grumbling stiff back is amenable to self-help exercises.  These would be my go-to areas to focus on to help you and your back to start feeling normal again.

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Upper and mid- back mobility

This is such a key area, and one that, for the reasons above, so often lacks the mobility that is optimal for the body.   When this area of the back is not moving well it shifts forces to the neck above and low back below.  The upper and mid back is capable of a lot of motion which helps to switch on the muscles of the hip (and closely related pelvic floor), abdomen, and shoulders.  We want to mobilise the back in as many of the planes of motion as it functions in daily life.  You can view some starter mobility exercises here.

Abdominal muscle strength

Our abdominal muscles are like our body’s natural corset.  When toned and switched on, these muscles, like those of the back, support those of the shoulders, hips, pelvis, and beyond.  There are endless ways of strengthening our abdominal muscles, but we need to be careful with our breathing when doing these exercises, especially when doing them on our back. Exhale with effort.  If we do the opposite, we create a force down on our pelvic floor, which is generally not advantageous post-pregnancy.   Always try to incorporate some upright abdominal exercises into your routine as these carryover better to daily activities (it’s not just about strength, but also about training your body to switch on these muscles).  I demonstrate some simple starter exercises here.

Hip/pelvic floor strength 

I’ve linked these two together because they have a close relationship to one another, however, muscles don’t work in isolation;  they are stimulated to switch-on by motion, often elsewhere in the body, and have a chain reaction with other muscles of the body.  That is why, in my opinion and experience, kegel exercises only give limited success; the pelvic floor connects to and works with the abdominal, back, shoulder, and hip muscles.  By moving and working these other areas in concert with the pelvic floor we will stimulate these muscles much more.

Our hips are the body’s powerhouse, so their mobility and strength make them key to the healthy function of the other parts.  I’ve demonstrated some strength exercises for the hips and pelvic floor here and some hip stretches here.   I’ve used a few props – resistance band, ball, weights – but you could do the exercises without them and I’ve tried to give an alternative – scarf, football – where possible.   Investing in a metre of resistance band is really useful for pelvic floor work however.

I hope you will have some fun and success trying out the exercises above.   Remember, if you are in doubt about their suitability for you, or if you experience anything more than mild discomfort whilst performing an exercise, then please seek a professional opinion.  Feel free of course to contact me – alison@golborneosteopaths.co.uk / www.golborneosteopaths.co.uk  – should you have any questions.

Alison Durant is kindly offering QPM’s card holders 20% off their initial consultation and treatment & 10% off follow-up treatments.

 

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