Pilates + Pregnancy = Preg-lates!!!!
The incidence of lower back pain during pregnancy is reported to be as high as 50-80% of all pregnant women. Pelvic changes and altered loading on the spine are the two main contributing factors of lower back pain in pregnant women1. One fifth of pregnant women develop pelvic pain. Lower back pain and pelvic pain may occur together or separately.
There are specific physiological and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy that allow for adaptations in the body to prepare you for delivery.
Relaxin is an important hormone that allows for increased joint mobility in the pelvis and hips. However, it also effects areas such as the pubic symphysis, sacroiliac joints and joints of the lower back. This can cause lower back and pelvic pain. The effects of increased Relaxin may be long lasting and may cause detrimental changes in the body’s biomechanics, altering joint alignment and function that may lead to ongoing pain. There are also many other factors that effect low back pain in pregnancy including mechanical, circulatory and psychological.
Exercise has been found to reduce the risk and severity of low back pain in pregnant women. This is due to the protective effect of exercising the pelvic floor and lumbar spine3. Exercise improves muscle strength and endurance allowing better lumbopelvic stability to compensate for the increase in tissue elasticity and other bodily changes during pregnancy.
Pilates is a great way to strengthen the gluteals, midsection and pelvic floor to provide greater stability in the lumbopelvic region. Pilates has shown to have greater affects on strength, endurance and adherence to rehabilitation compared to general strengthening program3. Pilates targets the ‘powerhouse’ involving the abdominals, obliques, pelvic floor and gluteals as well as incorporating the rest of the body. Pilates allows for greater overall strength exercises without involving heavy weights and risky exercise. Strengthening the pelvic floor also helps prevent post-natal complications, including incontinence.
There is further research continuing to be conducted to explore the full extent of the benefits Pilates has on pregnant women. These are certainly exciting times for this special area of Pilates.
1. Low back pain during pregnancy (2011). K. AL-Rashdan & A. Hadeed. Zagazig Medical Journal 17(2) 111-114
2. R. Shiri, D Coggon, K Falah-Hassani.(2018). Exercise for the prevention of low back and pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy: A meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Epidemiology 22 (1).
3. NT Dias, LR Ferreira, MG Fernandes, AM Resende, VS Periera-Baldon (2017). A Pilates exercise program with leovic floor muscle contraction: Is it effective for pregnant women? A randomised controlled trial. Neurourology and Urodynamica. 37 (1).