Pregnancy is a time of many changes in your body, and many of these changes can be quite challenging physically. The first and most obvious of these changes to impact on your spine is the weight gain. Not only are you carrying an increasing amount of weight as your pregnancy progresses, but most of the increase is right out in front of you! This change in your center of gravity radically alters your posture and the inherent biomechanics of your spine.
To complicate matters, these increased stresses to your spine come at a time when your spine is the least able to resist these forces. This is because throughout pregnancy your body secretes increasing amount of the hormone relaxin, which causes the ligaments and tendons in your body to relax, soften and stretch. This ability of ligaments to stretch is important in the birthing process, but can be troublesome in many other respects, especially as concerns the spine.
The spine is very dependent on ligaments to maintain its structural integrity; as they control both proper alignment and proper movement patterns. In back of each vertebra are two "facet joints" which guide and control the interaction of the vertebra with the vertebra above and below it. When the spine is moving improperly these facet joints can cause considerable pain, and often do!
It is important to understand these potential problems so that proper steps can be taken to minimize their negative impact on your body, both during and after your pregnancy. Here are some suggestions that will help you achieve this goal.
Strong muscles are your best line of defense against biomechanical stresses. An appropriate program usually includes mild aerobic and strengthening exercises.
Lift with your legs, avoid lifting objects over your head or lifting objects out in front of you, maintain good posture and use good "body sense" in everything you do. Remember it takes a long time after you give birth for ligaments to return to normal.
Back or neck pain is not "normal" during pregnancy. It is a signal that something is not right and should be evaluated by your chiropractor. Recent research has shown women who have received chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies demonstrated greater than 50% reduction in back pain, as well as a 24% reduction in mean labor time for first time mothers and a 39% reduction in mean labor time for those women who have given birth before.
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