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Exercise & Pregnancy

Research Regarding Core Stabilization Exercises:

A good core stabilization program can help reduce and prevent low back pain during pregnancy. Key muscles to target include transversusabdominus, mutlifidus, oblique abdominals, gluteus maximus, latissimusdorsi and the erector spinae. 4 7 Women with low back pain should engage in only low impact exercises3 4 and avoid strong contraction of the hip flexors (iliopsoas).4

If you are uncertain how to work the above muscles any of the personal trainers at World Health Club can help guide you in appropriate program selection for core stability and avoidance of hip flexor contraction.

Research Regarding Aerobic Exercise:

People who engaged in pre-pregnancy exercise (30 minutes, 3x/wk) have been shown to experience less physical discomfort during pregnancy, require fewer sick leaves during pregnancy and recover more rapidly from birthing.1

Exercise during pregnancy has been demonstrated to be highly beneficial. Individualized training in posture, ergonomics, exercise and relaxation while pregnant resulted in half the number of sick days taken during pregancy.1 Regular exercise also appears to reduce the risk of pre-term births and shortens delivery time.2 However, it is still advised that women who have a history of pre-term labor or fetal growth restriction reduce their activity in the second and third trimesters.

Postpartum exercise has been linked to lower rates of postpartum depression.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Guidelines for Exercise During Pregnancy:

Consult your obstetrician to rule out complications of pregnancy and contraindications to exercise before engaging in any exercise routine. In the absence of contraindications pregnant women should engage in regular (30 min, most days of the week), moderate intensity exercise to derive the same benefits that they did prior to the pregnancy.

Exertion at altitudes up to 6000 feet appears to be safe. Activity above this altitude carries various risks which may jeopardize the pregnancy.

Activities to be avoided are those sports with a high potential for contact, impact or falling such as soccer, basketball, horseback riding, downhill skiing and vigorous racquet sports. Scuba diving should also be avoided due to the fetus being at increased risk for decompression sickness.

Stop any activity that causes discomfort, pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding/leaking of fluid, or contractions.

Back Pain and Pregnancy

9-12 % of women experience pregnancy related back pain severe enough to interfere with their daily activities.8 Low back pain is the leading cause of sick leave in pregnant women. By 24 weeks 63.3 % of pregnant women report back pain.10 It has been identified that the structures of the low back are the primary pain generator in the majority of cases.9 11 Chiropractic is a very safe and effective means of coping with the low back discomfort associated with pregnancy.

Recommended Reading:

DiLama SN, Painter SJ (eds). Chiropractic Patient Resource Manual. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen 1994 p 4:54-4:60

Noble E. Essential Exercises For the Childbearing Year: A guide to Health and Comfort Before and After Your Baby is Born. 3rd Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988

Works Cited

1. Noren L Ostgaard S, Nielsen TF, Ostgaard HC: Reduction of sick leave for lumbar back and posterior pelvic pain. Spine 1997; 22(18):2157-2160

2. Hatch M, Levin B, Shu XO, Susser M: Maternal liesure time exercise and timely delivery. American Journal of Public Health 1998: 88(10): 1528-1533.

3. O’Connor LJ, Gourley RJ: Evaluation and Treatment of the Obstatric Client. Obstetric and Gynecologic Care in Physical Therapy. Thorofare, NJ: Slack; 1990: 215-243.

4. Pool-Goudzward AL, Vleeming A, Stroekart R, Snijders CJ, Mens JMA: Insufficient Lumbopelivic Stability: a clinical, anatomical and biomechanical approach to a specific low back pain. Manual Therapy 1998: 3(1): 12-20.

5. Noble E: Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year: a guide to health and comfort before and after your baby is born. 3rd Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin; 1988.DiLama SN, Painter SJ (eds): Chiropractic Patient Resource Manula. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen; 1994, p 4:54-4:60

6. Raphael R: Pregnancy: Managing Low Back Pain. Western States Chiropractic College Conservative Care Pathway: 2000.

7. Lumbar Stabilization Program. Western States Chiropractic College Protocol; 2000.

8. Fast A, Weiss L Ducommun J, Medina E, Butler JG: Low back pain in pregnancy, abdominal muscles, sit-up performance and back pain. Spine 1990: 15(1)

9. Ostgaard HC, Zetherstrom Z, Roos-Hansson E, Scanberg B: Reduction of back and posterior pelvic pain in pregnancy. Spine 1994; 19(8): 894-900.

10. Kristiansson P, Svarsudd K, Schoultz B: Back pain during pregnancy, a prospective study. Spine 1996:21 (6): 702-709.

11. Colliton J: Back Pain and Pregnancy. Active management strategies. PhySportsmed 1996; 24(7):89-95


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