Pregnancy is a massive test for a woman’s body. During pregnancy, your weakest points will most likely become apparent. So, ideally, you should prepare your body in advance for this challenge. How do you do that? Well, keep on reading.
Spine Treatment Centre specialists have been consulting and treating patients with musculoskeletal problems for more than 25 years. Based on their experience, we will discuss what women should do before pregnancy to help their bodies get through the challenge.
The most common complaint during the pregnancy is back pain or discomfort, which is usually caused by weight gain, the change in center of body mass, hormone(relaxin and estrogen) affected looser ligaments, and pelvic joints. Back pain and discomfort during and post-pregnancy can be prevented or reduced if women would prepare their musculoskeletal system in advance.
A visit to a physiotherapist should be mandatory
First of all, while planning a pregnancy it is important to evaluate if a musculoskeletal system is ready to sustain growing weight, to adapt to a changing body mass center, and to evaluate whether the joints and ligaments are prepared for the hormonal changes. A professional physiotherapist or medical physician should apply specific tests to establish the muscle segments which are most susceptible to trauma and should assign individualized exercises for those problematic areas of your body.
Secondly, a universal exercise plan that fits everyone does not exist. So pre-pregnant, as well as, pregnant women, should avoid chasing popular sports activities and should pay extreme attention to their own musculoskeletal system situation. Doing random exercises to get the workout in will not help to properly prepare for pregnancy, to the contrary, it may even do some damage.
Prevent lower back pain
Physiotherapists of the Spine Treatment Center confirm that 45–75 percent of women have experienced back pain during pregnancy. For a long time, back pain in a pregnant woman was thought to be a natural condition. However, this should not be blamed solely on pregnancy, as the causes of spinal ailments were usually pre-existent in the woman’s musculoskeletal system before pregnancy.
Jonas Girskis, neurologist, physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, and specialist in manual therapy with almost 40 years of experience in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, places special emphasis on the care of women who already have an anterior pelvic tilt posture (Example B),before pregnancy. In such a case, to keep the lumbar spine safe, it is important to strengthen the abdominal press rather than the back muscles. Thus, in preparation for pregnancy, the back muscles should not be strengthened, as stereotypically thought, but stretched.
Prevent abdominal muscle separation (diastasis recti)
During pregnancy back extensor muscles tend to get more pressure and tension because of the increasing abdominal mass, while the abdominal muscles tend to weaken. Consequently, a weak abdominal muscle can cause problems ranging from postpartum stretch marks to the irreversible abdominal separation (diastasis recti).
The separation of the rectus abdominis muscles - diastase - during the last trimester of pregnancy is a very common issue. This is due to the fetus growing in the womb. Diastasis is caused by an imbalance of a weakened abdominal and tense back muscle. Normally, the abdominal wall that has split after delivery should return to its original position. Unfortunately, not all postpartum abdominal muscles return to their original position and it may require surgery. Specialists of the Spine Treatment Center recommend to strengthen the front and the side muscles of the abdomen and stretch the back extensor muscles before pregnancy.
Ensure pelvic bones stability
During pregnancy, hormones (relaxin and estrogen) loosen the ligaments that connect the pelvic bones. At the same time, a growing fetus pressures the bottom of the pelvis. Such conditions increase the risk of dysfunction and instability of symphysis pubis. According to Greta Girskė, consulting physical therapist and the director of the Spine treatment center, — women with weak abdominal, pelvic floor, and hyper-elastic inner thigh muscles (hip adductors) before pregnancy, are most likely to experience symphysis pubis dysfunction and instability during pregnancy. Only the balanced activity of those muscles groups ensures the stability of the pelvic bones during pregnancy.
Our main advice would be — to allow a professional physiotherapist or medical physician to evaluate your musculoskeletal system and indicate which exercises/physical activity would be the most beneficial for your body.
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