“During pregnancy, the ligaments between the pelvic bones soften and stretch to enable expansion of the birth canal. Usually pelvic pain, also called pelvic girdle pain or pelvic instability and result if the pelvis loses its natural alignment. This can make simple tasks like walking, sitting, lifting and getting in and out of cars painful, and in some cases, can last for many years after pregnancy” Cecile Rost
I experienced pelvic girdle pain during my second pregnancy and it literally changed my life! I was fit and healthy so it was hard for me to understand how this could happen. What I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter how active and healthy you are, pelvic pain can happen to anyone.
There are two common types of pelvic pain during pregnancy. Pelvic girdle pain (what I had) and sciatica.
As your hormones shift during pregnancy, your ligaments and joints become lax and unstable in preparation for birth. As the muscles are working harder to keep the joints in place, you’ll have other muscles (hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors, and lower back) compensating to take the work which may cause the pelvis to come out of alignment.
To keep the pelvis in place, we need a number of muscles to function well. These muscles make up the “core canister” or “core 4”, multifidus, transverse abdominis (TVA), diaphragm and pelvic floor. We also need to call on our glute muscles but often during pregnancy, your pelvis may roll under becoming tight and inactive.
As you can see from the diagram below, the Core 4. This group of muscles interact with one another as a team and if you're out of alignment, the Core 4 may become less effective. Not to worry, we can retrain this.
Used with permission from Bellies Inc
Alignment is so important and often it’s brushed of as typical pregnancy posture but there is a lot happening inside your Core 4 when we are out of alignment.
The core and pelvic floor are working much harder because they’re not stacked directly.
When ribs are seated behind the pelvis, it places more pressure on the linea alba which can result in a more significant diastasis recti making your core vulnerable to weakness leaving it less supported.
Your ribs, abs, back and glutes become tight leaving the inner thighs, hip flexors and lower back to take on the work that they’re not meant to do placing additional stress on the pelvic joint.
Here are the 3 most common alignment issues that I see in my pregnant and postpartum clients. The third picture optimal alignment.
Rib Thruster: Ribs are seated behind the pelvis, hips tucked under
Pelvic Tilt: Hips tucked under which cause the chest and shoulders to round forward adding stress onto the abs.
Neutral Spine: Ribs are stacked over their hips, pelvis is out and not rolled under, spine is neutral leaving you aligned optimally.
Remember to stand with your ribs stacked above your hips, shoulders down and back, hips outward and not rolled under. If your nipples are pointing to the ceiling or to the floor, adjust them so that they’re pointing directly in front.
Being mindful of your alignment and practicing it can be a big help. If you have some tightness, it can be useful to use soft tissue release which will also reduce some aches and pains.
Here is an example of a few muscle releases that I use in my programming to help with these alignment issues as well as pelvic and lower back discomfort.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Laying Hamstring Stretch
Tips for soft tissue release
With foam rolling, be sure to go slow. Find that spot that isn’t so pleasant and gently roll back and forth other that spot until it dissipated. If you can’t do it all at once, take breaks. It may take months before you can foam roll comfortably but DON’T GIVE UP!
When doing the glute release, find that spot that again, isn’t so pleasant and allow yourself to relax into it.
With each stretch, be sure to go until it’s slightly uncomfortable but not painful. Hold for at least 20-30 seconds.
>>>And there’s a lot more information in my Barbell Training For Pregnancy: Your 3 Step Guide For Maximizing Performance During and After Pregnancy. It features simple and actionable steps to maximize your core and pelvic floor function, improve performance, and most importantly, avoid the complications that can arise from postnatal exercising. Click here to access your free guide today.>>>