Pains of Pregnancy – Low Back Pain

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In this Pains of Pregnancy series, Principal Physiotherapist Sylvia Ho discusses the common issues faced by expectant mothers, how to identify them, and what physiotherapy can do to ease the symptoms and ultimately, pave the way to a more comfortable pregnancy and subsequent childbirth. In this edition, we discuss pregnancy back pain in expectant mothers, its causes and what you can do to alleviate the pain.


Why do pregnant ladies have lower back pain? Because of the compression. First and foremost, because the back is very hollow, there’s going to be excessive compression. So the more neutral spine position, this position, you don’t have so much compression. When you are in an arched position, you can imagine that the back gets compressed so it’s not happy. It’s painful.
Secondly, you have increased the load on the spine because of the body weight. That increases compression as well.

Thirdly, because of the baby bump in front here, her abdominal muscles are now really stretched down this way as well as horizontally. So, there’s less support for the lower back. Lastly, the reason why she gets lower back pain is because of hormonal changes. Because of hormonal changes, the ligaments are a lot more lax so therefore, less stability and there’s weakened and stretched tummy muscles, even for the instability.

So why is it important to treat the lower back pain?

Because there’s no necessity for you to have lower back pain during pregnancy. You can have a comfortable, pain-free pregnancy.

The second reason is that if you don’t treat lower back pain, the pain is likely to continue into post-delivery and makes it very difficult for you to care for your newborn child. And lastly, if you don’t get it treated, the pain may get progressively worse with each pregnancy. So if you plan to have a second one or third, then the lower back pain might get progressively worse if it’s not well-treated now.

We’re doing the posterior pelvic exercise. What we want to do is get her to walk up this way. Good, and relax. When we do this, we’re flattening out her back so it gives us relief in the lower back. If you remember, the lower back is very hollow because of the pregnancy. Up and down for me like this, doing well. What we want to watch out further is use as little legs as possible. Don’t push your heels too much, really use that abdominal muscles. Tuck your tummy, hold it there for a few seconds.
This is the single leg knee hug. What you want to do is lift this leg up for me, hug it and hold. Hold up five counts – five, four, three, two, one and back down. The other side for me, hold on. And again, we’re stretching the lower back – five, four, three, two, one.

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