The Underlying Cause of Pregnancy-Related Back / Pelvic Pain

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Can you feel how your pelvis wants to rock forward / downward in response to your baby’s front loaded weight?

Did you know that when your pelvis rotates forward, the ligaments that support its joints slacken, and subsequently your pelvis becomes less stable?

Once this occurs, it sets off a “chain reaction” through the body that increases the stress on your low back, pelvis, hips, and legs. In fact, it is this fundamental stress to your pelvis that is the underlying cause of most pregnancy related pain.

For the low back, the farther forward your pelvis rotates, the more exaggerated the curve in your low back gets. This creates a progressive increase in the levels of strain to the muscles and ligaments which support your back.

For the pelvis, its forward rotation increases the stress to its joints. On the backside, this pain is felt one and/or both sides of the buttock where the pelvic bones and tailbone come together. On the front side, the pain is felt over the pubic zone and often projects into the “groin” areas.

For the hips, with their sockets built directly into the pelvic bones, the forward rotation of your pelvis disrupts the optimal alignment of your hip joints and renders you more vulnerable to developing hip pain.

For the legs, this same pelvis rotation can increase the stresses on the nerves which run through the low back & pelvis and into your legs, creating what is often called, maternity “sciatica”.

As your body loosens is response to the pregnancy hormones and your baby grows within the uterus, it becomes progressively more difficult to avoid this forward rotation of your pelvis. This is the reason why back / pelvic pain are so common in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you are experiencing pregnancy-related discomfort, assume that your pelvis has become strained and into its forward rotated position.

The good news is that once you learn how to reduce this stress by resetting and supporting your upright pelvis, you can successfully relieve most of the common pain symptoms of pregnancy.

At our clinic, we utilize a specific HOME PROGRAM to reduce this fundamental stress and get relief. The first step is a special pelvic tilt exercise done in combination with a gentle core exercise. These action steps are so focused and effective in reducing the forward rotation of your pelvis that this is often all you need to do to get relief. The second step in the home program is the added use of a new type of maternity support, called MATERNALIFT. This step is added when you notice that your pain symptoms return with activity.

To learn how to best reset and support your upright pelvis and get relief, first read through the blog posts on the best pelvic tilt and core exercises, and then the on the best use of maternity support. This will give you the sequence of information needed to execute our home program.

Also, you can view our presentation of the HOME PROGRAM and MATERNALIFT.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Kevin Hansen, M.P.T., is an obstetrics physical therapy specialist, who practices in Bellevue, Washington State. 

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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