Exercises to Relieve Back Pain during Pregnancy

Back pain during pregnancy is very common. Up to 50-80% of women experience back pain during pregnancy. Most of the time back pain is not debilitating, but it can be very frustrating. This is even more true if you have another little one to chase after! On top of that, we're typically limited in ways to relieve back pain during pregnancy. Certain medications aren't recommended during pregnancy, and there are certain positions that you may not be able to use. I'm a total stomach sleeper and love massages, it was so hard not to lay on my stomach and not be able to get a normal massage. Read on to learn 7 exercises to relieve back pain during pregnancy.

Causes and Risks Factors of Back Pain during Pregnancy

  • Postural Changes. It's not surprise that our bodies change during pregnancy. The belly obviously gets larger, but other things change too. Our pelvis tilts forward more and our feet have to sit wider to improve our support base. Typically our shoulders and upper back round more due to things like growing breasts. This can take a toll on our muscles and lead to back pain.
  • Hormonal Changes. While we don't know exactly how much hormones affect back pain, it is true that there are a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy. Some of those hormonal changes lead to increased laxity or elasticity in the ligaments. This means our muscles have to work harder to maintain support of our spine and pelvis. Hormonal changes can increase constipation during pregnancy which can actually contribute to back pain.
  • Position of Baby. This may actually affect pelvic pain more if baby's head or foot is sitting in an uncomfortable place. But it's possible it could increase back pain.

Risk Factors for Back Pain

  • History of back pain
  • Increased parity (having had more babies)
  • Higher levels of stress
  • Low Job satisfaction

Exercises to Relieve Back Pain during Pregnancy

The following exercises are some of the best that I've found as a physical therapist and personally. While the key to relieving back pain long term is improving movement and strength, these stretches can help you in a pinch and provide relief through your day.

Pelvic Tilt


Cat/ Cow


Child's Pose

child's pose
Put toes together and knees wide apart. Reach forward. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Sidelying Upper Body Twist

supine twist
Lay on back with knees bent. Slowly lower knees to the left side, hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions. (This stretch should be performed prior to 20 weeks of pregnancy)

L Stretch

L Stretch
Stand in near a counter or chair. Place arms on surface and reach bottom back. Let head hang and relax. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Dangle Stretch

Use step stool or block, place one foot on that surface. Reach forward towards the ground. Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat on opposite side.

Deep Abdominal Strengthening

transverse abdominis
Seated or laying on your back (before 20 weeks), gently draw belly button towards your spine to feel an engagement in your lower core.

Other Things to Consider

Some other things you can try to help relieve back pain during pregnancy are the following

  • Warm Bath
  • Prenatal Massage
  • Sleep with a pregnancy pillow
  • TENS Units
  • SI Belt

What NOT to do for Back Pain

  • Avoid severe asymmetrical movements
    • Getting in and out of the car
    • Using poor mechanics when lifting
    • Holding your breath when lifting

If your back pain doesn't improve with conservative measures or it's severely interfering with your daily life, seek help from a physical therapist. We can help you find ways to move and exercise to help relieve back pain.

Learn about more that Simpli Whole can help with during pregnancy by reading more here

If you're in the State of Ohio, schedule a telehealth or in-person physical therapy visit with Simpli Whole!

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