Skip to main content
Trainers working with clients

Muscle Pain During Pregnancy: Part 1

by AthleticoLeave a Comment

Editor’s note: Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a three part series to common symptoms during pregnancy and how to treat them!

Help! What Is This Pain I Am Experiencing During My Pregnancy?

You’re pregnant!  It’s an exciting and busy time for you. So, why are you having pain?

Pregnancy physical therapyDuring pregnancy, a number of things occur that allow the baby to grow and prepare your body for labor and delivery. As the uterus and baby grow, your center of gravity moves forward which pulls your shoulders and head forward with your growing belly and breasts. This changes your posture and how you walk and move your body. It’s recommended that you gain 25 to 35 pounds over the course of your pregnancy, which also can affect your back and hips. An increase in hormones softens the ligaments, which provides the pelvic bones the flexibility to separate just enough to give birth to your baby.

Following are some common pregnancy pains and tips to get you through it.

Upper and Lower Back Pain

Back pain can occur at any time during your pregnancy, but it becomes more common in your third trimester. Due to the postural changes that occur, your muscles need to work harder to keep the back and pelvis stable. Additionally, enlargement of the breasts will create a forward pull on the upper back and increase the work load of the back muscles to support the neck, shoulders, and upper back.

Strategies for pain relief:

  • Keep a neutral standing and sitting posture with all activities. Keep your shoulders down and back, tuck your chin and place equal weight on your feet when standing and on your buttocks while sitting.
  • Perform daily exercise such as walking or swimming. Exercise will keep your back muscles strong to assist with support during pregnancy.
  • Sleep with a neutral posture by placing a pillow between your knees and between your arms to keep your shoulder from being pulled forward while lying on your side.
  • Avoid heavy lifting, but if you need to lift, be sure to use good posture and body mechanics.
  • Physical therapy can help with stretching and strengthening exercises, body mechanics for daily activities and soft tissue work to decrease muscular tension and pain.

Sacro-Iliac (SI) joint dysfunction

The Sacro-Iliac (SI) joint is located where the lower part of the spine (the sacrum) comes together with the Ilium (the pelvic bone). It is caused by either hypermobility or hypomobility at the joint, both of which will cause inflammation at the joint. People with this dysfunction report lower back pain, buttock pain, sciatica, and hip or groin pain. Pain can occur with climbing stairs, standing up from a sitting position, prolonged sitting or standing, and bending forward.

  • A pelvic stability belt or SI belt can help to compress the joint and improve the stability.
  • Heat or ice can help the area to decrease the pain.
  • Improving your posture and body mechanics with all activities to assure that you are supporting the spine and pelvis with your muscles during lifting, positional changes, and prolonged positions.
  • Physical therapy can assist with improving the alignment of the SI joint, proper fitting of the SI belt if needed, soft tissue mobilization to decrease the pain and inflammation, and exercise to improve the pelvic and core stability.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

Sharp pelvic pain located low at the pelvic bone is called symphysis pubis dysfunction. This is where the pubic bones come together and are connected with ligaments. A separation or change in alignment of the bones during pregnancy or post- partum is very painful. Common symptoms include pain with walking, traveling up or down stairs, lifting and carrying objects, or positional changes such as standing up, getting in and out of your car, or rolling over in bed. Complaints include lower back pain, lower abdominal pain, and leg pain.

What can I do?

  • Try to avoid asymmetrical movements with your legs as these motions will cause shearing at the pubic symphysis and increase your pain.
  • Use of a Sacro-Iliac Belt (SI belt) or a pelvic stability belt will help to compress the bones together to limit the amount of shearing that can occur.
  • Physical therapy treatment can include soft tissue mobilization to decrease muscular pain and spasms, exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the area to support the pelvis, postural exercises, and strategies for your daily activities to minimize the irritation of the joint.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and need help with relieving your pain, please contact one of our Women’s Health Physical Therapists. We can help to teach you the appropriate strengthening and postural exercises, stretches, body mechanics for safe performance of activities, and soft tissue mobilization to decrease muscular pain and spasms.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

Request an Appointment Today

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Read more health resources related to these topics:

Women's Health

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *