Upper back pain during pregnancy occurs in 50 to 80 percent of women and can be soothed by many different techniques.
Your back pain may be due to various factors, a major one being your growing belly pulling the gravity of your back forward and creating poor posture.
Sometimes women experience trapped nerves that run between the spine and ribs; the rib cage is shifting during pregnancy and some of them may be too close together, trapping a nerve or two. When women experience this specific nerve entrapment, there are a couple of exercises they can do daily to help soothe the pain brought on in their back and rib cage.
Another main determinant for back pain during pregnancy is the release of the hormone relaxin. This hormone release triggers the ligaments in the body to completely relax for your body to accommodate its growing self. Relaxin release is necessary during pregnancy but also leads the muscles in your body (especially your back!) to work a lot harder than they’re used to.
A few ways to soothe and combat this upper back pain during pregnancy are:
- Use a foam roller or ball to release myofascial connective tissue
- Drink more water
- Stay active
- Be more mindful of your posture
Myofascial release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. // myofascialrelease.com
Many people are unaware of these tiny little knot-like connective tissues balled up around their bodies. These tensions can produce a “tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures.”
Purchase a simple foam roller from your local exercise store or on Amazon. We recommend this one because it comes with both the ribbed/textured roller as well as the smooth roller.
Not into the foam roller? You can also perform myofascial release using a tennis or lacrosse ball. It reaches less surface area than the foam roller, but you can get deeper into your muscles that way, pinpointing the exact areas of tension. You can ask your partner to roll the tennis or lacrosse ball around your back, stand with your back up against the wall with the ball in between you and the wall, or lie flat on the ground.
Be sure you put pressure in an even fashion, moving slowly up and down your back. Do not do this too quickly; you could hurt yourself.
Drink more water! Your water intake is extremely important during pregnancy and you may be surprised at how much water can do for your growing body. One amazing thing water does is move toxins through your body; toxins can be caught up in your muscles creating tension.
Read more on the benefits of drinking a lot of water during pregnancy.
Stay Active | Exercise
There are plenty of exercises that can help soothe your upper back pain during pregnancy. Stretching is a form of exercise that assists your expanding body in mysterious ways. These exercises may not make your pain disappear, but they will certainly help soothe and release some of the tension.
Simple Stretch Exercise #1: Sit on a chair, place your left hand over your right knee, twist towards the back of your chair; switch and repeat. Breathe slowly while doing this, allowing your lungs to fill with air and empty.
Simple Stretch Exercise #2: Sit on a chair, lift an arm as high as possible towards the ceiling, inhale for five seconds, and as you exhale for five seconds lower your arm; switch and repeat.
Simple Stretch Exercise #3: “Stand with feet wide, right foot turned out and right heel aligned with arch of left foot; raise arms to shoulder height and out to sides, palms facing the floor. Bend forward from the hips over the right leg, placing your right hand on your shin or ankle, as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling, palm facing forward; turn head to look up at the ceiling. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.” // www.fitpregnancy.com
As you lay in bed at night, use a heating pad to relax those upper back muscles after stretching and exercising them.
It is extremely easy to form poor posture habits during pregnancy. In many cases, this is the main reason for upper back pain during pregnancy. If that is your case, there is a simple fix!
“Keep the chest and head high, hold ears over shoulders, tuck buttocks under, and keep the pelvis flatter, rather than arching your back, to support your additional weight.” // Roger Harms, M.D., author of Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.
If you are in a situation where sitting for long periods of time is non-negotiable, purchase a lower lumbar pillow to place between you and the chair. This will help your posture by reducing head and neck slouching.
There are many reasons your upper back may be in pain during pregnancy, but these are some of the main causes. Try these basic yet invaluable techniques and experience relief for that annoying upper back pain during pregnancy!
Read our article of the best body pillows “Actually Get Comfortable With the Best Body Pillows for Pregnancy”