WHAT POSTURAL CHANGES OCCUR DURING PREGNANCY?
This blog is all about the postural changes that occur in a pregnant woman’s body. hopefully this will help give you some insight into what’s happening on the inside and help you understand why you may be suffering with stiff shoulders, neck strain and back pain. Here are my tips on how to handle the aches and pains.
As you well know, it’s not just your bump that grows, your breasts also grow in preparation for feeding baby. Because you are carrying more weight in your chest than you're used to, your shoulders tend to come forwards to compensate. At the same time, the upper back muscles, particularly those in between your shoulder blades may weaken and lengthened, forcing the shoulder blades to separate.
What can you do? Notice where you may be holding stress in the shoulders - especially doing everyday activities. Bring your awareness to the tops of your shoulders. Notice the space between your shoulder blades at the back of the body. Take time out of your working day to straighten up and lengthen out.
Everyone has a natural curve in their lumbar spine (lower back), but, it becomes even more pronounced in pregnant women. To make space for your growing baby, your pelvis tips forwards during pregnancy and your lower back becomes more arched. If you find it easier to picture this way, what happens is; your hip bones at the front shift further forwards, and your tail bone moves further back, creating an anterior, or forward pelvic tilt.
Muscles which become affected to create this curve in your lower back are the hip flexors (just below your hip bones) which become tighter; the gluteals (your bottom) becomes weakened/lengthened as your backside protrudes backwards; your abdominals stretch (and sometimes) separate, and your lower back muscles become tighter. This goes a long way to explaining why some pregnant women suffer with back, hip and pelvic problems.
What can you do? The cat/cow exercises we do in classes, plus many of the exercises against the wall may help keep you back strong and help you stay aware of the position of your pelvis.
Your centre shifts
Another postural change is to do with your centre of gravity. Ordinarily, when a non-pregnant person stands side-on, you can easily draw a straight line from their ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle joint. When a heavily pregnant person stands side-on, the line is no longer in the same place, because your bump protrudes forwards, causing you to be “front-heavy”. The closer you get to the due date, the more that central gravity line travels forwards and away from your ear, shoulder and pelvis.
Taking all of this into consideration, it’s really important that pregnant women are very careful when approaching certain situations eg stepping down on to the floor, moving around in bed etc to protect certain joints, and it’s vital that correct posture is maintained when you’re exercising. I hope you now feel a little more aware of your body as it goes through one of the most amazing changes possible.
What can you do? Mountain pose is fantastic for bringing awareness to your centre. Spreading the feet, toes wide on your yoga mat, thinking your way up through the body, perhaps imagining your spine lengthening all the way up to the crown of your head.