Pregnant with Pelvic Girdle Pain? These Gentle Exercises Might Help
Symphasis Pubis Disorder (SPD) or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a common complaint during pregnancy. It is believed to be caused by the hormone relaxin, which literally relaxes your joints and ligaments, especially in the hip and pelvic areas.
Pain is felt in your hips, lower back, bum and inside your thighs, and believe me, it can be extremely sore. At times it feels like your hips are going to completely separate from each other. Getting out of the car or bed can be difficult, and you might feel like a 100-year-old woman when you first get up!
First of all, you need to be diagnosed by your GP. You will be referred to a physio, who will stretch and massage you, and show you exercises to do at home. In the meantime, you have to avoid the following -
- Walking, especially long strides
- Breast stroke when swimming
- Lateral raises
- Heavy weight lifting or loading too much weight on your hips
There are ways to relieve this pain, and exercises that can be done. First of all, you need to avoid any lateral movements in your legs, keep your legs closed and don't open them too wide! Strengthening and stretching the muscles in your bum, lower back and quads will help, but you need to be very careful.
You can continue doing pelvic floor exercises such as kegels, pelvic tilt, hip bridge and cat stretch. Sitting on a stability ball will help with pain, as will sleeping with a pillow between your legs. The following exercises can help with pain and stability:
Bridge - lift hips up, squeezing pelvic floor and breathing out. Up for 2-3 seconds, and down for 2-3 seconds
Bum lift - kneeling on hands and knees, lift foot up towards ceiling, and back down
Leg press - lying on side, lift hip up towards chest, then push out, squeezing bum and pelvic floor muscles
Leg lift - lying on side, lift leg up and down. It is very important to not go up too high, as this can aggravate SPD, but with small movements, can help
You can continue doing pelvic floor exercises such as kegels, pelvic tilt, hip bridge and cat stretch. Sitting on a stability ball will help with pain, as will sleeping with a pillow between your legs.
Make sure to stretch afterwards, but only gentle stretches, not too much tension, and hold for about 20 seconds;
Cat stretch - photo
Quad stretch - photo
Hamstring photo - photo
The good news is that most women's SPD disappears soon after birth, or within a 3 months. Always take care, and don't go back to regular exercise until your hips and back feel normal again.
Your physio will probably give you an exercise called a clam. It is important to do the exercises that the physio gives you, and remember to stop if you feel pain.
Steph Sinnott is a prenatal and postnatal fitness trainer. She founded the Baby Body Fit website in 2010 to help women get through the maternity cycle while maintaining a level of fitness and staying healthy. Baby Body Fit is Ireland’s first and leading prenatal and postnatal exercise company. Find out more or book a class HERE.