by: Samantha Davis, LMT, CNMT, Prenatal and Postpartum Massage Therapist
Low back, hip, and neck pain are all common during pregnancy. These can all be related, or exacerbated by the postural accommodations the pregnant body makes to adjust for the changing weight distribution and shifting center of gravity.
Here's a simple technique I show all of my pregnant clients:
Do you learn better with a visual you can follow along with? I included a link to the video I made below!
You can also click this graphic I made to expand or download!
Follow the steps below to ease your pregnancy back pain, neck pain, and hip pain!
Starting position: standing (barefoot is optimal) with knees slightly bent so they are not locked.
Step 1: Head Lift
Goal: To lengthen the neck and align the weight of the head over the center of the body.
Visualization & Movement: (2 visualizations are given with the same movement, choose which one works best for you!)
Imagine a string attached to the top of the head pulling the head up towards the ceiling, lengthen through the neck, and bring the chin back until the ears line up over the shoulders.
Imagine a crown is placed on your head and to keep it balanced, you lengthen through the neck, and bring the chin back until the ears line up over the shoulders.
Step 2: Ribcage Alignment
Goal: To open up the chest, allowing breathing to expand through the lower ribs.
Visualization & Movement:
Imagine a string attached to your sternum (breast bone) pulling the center of your chest towards the opposite side of the room, chest moves forward and up slightly, arms roll back, breathe into the lower ribs, feeling expansion down, and out through the sides.
Step 3: Pelvis and Low Back Alignment
Goal: To reduce strain and compression of lumbar spine (low back) and relax the gluteal muscles.
Visualization & Movement:
Imagine a string tied to your tailbone with a heavy weight attached and a string attached to your pubic bone pulling up toward the ceiling. Without bending the knees any more, contract only your lower abdominals into a pelvic tilt.
Tips & Recommendations:
This pregnancy posture helps to realign the spine and helps relax the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles. It can help to take the strain off of the muscles of the neck, low back, and glutes. This conscious relaxation is something that can be done as much as you want during the day, and once you get the hang of it standing, can be incorporated into a sitting postural adjustment. (Just make sure your feet are flat on the floor!)
I have had clients tell me they feel like they may tip forward, especially later in pregnancy. This is just the brain catching up to the body, and figuring out where everything is, a process called proprioception. It can help to practice this with a chair or countertop in front of you, should you feel you want to have a hand on it to steady yourself.
The third movement (Pelvic Tilt) can also be practiced by itself, by leaning against a wall, so that your shoulders and glutes touch the wall, feet about 12-15 inches away from the wall. Practice the movements of the pelvic tilt and notice how you only need to engage the lower abdominals. Feel your low back lengthen and straighten until it's touching the wall.
Do you learn better through visuals? I created a video outlining these steps!
Go to my Instagram page to watch my video and follow along!
"Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide." Fifth edition. By Penny Simkin, PT, et al.
This book is a great comprehensive pregnancy book, and I recommend it to anyone who is pregnant or trying to conceive. The book also has a website to go along with it: PCNGuide.com
You can click the image to the left to open a shoppable search for new and used copies of this book online.
Hi, I'm Samantha, owner and Licensed Massage Therapist at Gaia Massage, LLC.
I'm here to empower women and pregnant people to help them feel better through massage therapy techniques specialized for pregnancy, and through sharing knowledge, tips, & tricks for self care!
Want to schedule a Prenatal Massage? Click the link below to schedule online, or contact me directly to request an in-home session!
Sources Used For This Post:
Osborne, Carole, et al."Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy." Third edition. Handspring Publishing. 2021. p 125-126.
Simkin, Penny, et al. "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide." Fifth edition. Hachette Book Group. 2018. p 82, 92. Noble, Elizabeth. "Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year." Fourth edition. New Life Images. 1995. Fig. 148.