After diastasis recti the complaint I get most from women who have children is about back-pain. Usually lower-back pain and they quite often suffer from it for such a long time that they accept it as a “part of life”.
Some try to resolve it by doing the odd Yoga class, after all Yoga is supposed to be good for lower back-pain, but often this gets them very limited results. The reason for this is not that Yoga isn’t good for you, it’s that the Yoga class you’re taking doesn’t focus on the right areas. After all, when we try to recover from a specific problem we have to exercise with a specific purpose and make sure there’s a clearly defined path to get you from A to B. A generic Yoga class does not really allow for this.
What we class as post-natal back-pain
As some of you will know, at Healthypost-natalbody.com we class back-pain as “post-natal” if it is “caused by, or a results of, having given birth or having a young child”. Most, if not all, GPs stop seeing back-pain as a post-natal problem after the 6 week check-up, but definitely 3 months post-partum. We believe this is a mistake as it prevents a more holistic approach to resolving the issue and narrows the focus on the back when it quite often isn’t a “back problem”.
Causes of post-natal back pain
When it comes to the causes of back pain it’s a “how long is a piece of string” situation as there are plenty. I’ll list the main ones that we come across.
A disfunctional core and glutes The main cause that we come across. During pregnancy your core get a bit weaker or “switches off” alltogether and this means that the lower back is taking a lot more strain. Because your center of gravity changes when you’re pregnant your glutes quite often start switching off a bit as well and, again, this means that your back starts to overcompensate and do more work. This can go hand in hand with diastasis recti but that’s not always the case. Taking a “narrow definition” of Diastasis Recti as only being having a gap between the stomach musces which measures more than 2.5cm. At HPNB we have a wider, we believe more accurate, definition which includes “poor functionality of the core muscles”. This, again, is something your GP might not necessarily spot as the cause of the problem because they tend to follow the “there is no gap so no diastasis recti” approach.
Posture problems This is one of the main reasons we class back-pain as post-natal for much longer than most. Quite often women get posture problems due to breastfeeding and carrying a baby/toddler around for prolonged periods of time. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with loads of hills then pushing a buggy around all day can also have a major impact on your posture. The shoulders tend to move forward and the chest muscles shorten whilst muscles in the upperback lengthen and get weaker. This then, again, puts more strain on the lower back resulting in discomfort.
Pelvic Floor weakness This is why we always, always..ALWAYS advise you to start doing your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel comfortable afte giving birth. Again it comes down to muscles not functioning properly and the body being out of alignment. Here are some easy exercises from our diaper-making friends at Tena. They also have an app which, unlike the NHS one, is free.
Not being strong enough to lift heavy things We see this a lot in mums. If you have never done any heavy’ish lifting or resistance training you will struggle with a baby, especially if you keep feeding them and they keep getting heavier! Then add some”travel systems”/buggies, some toys, bottles and diapers and you’re cooking with gas.
Not sleeping in a normal position or being sedentary in an uncomfortable position for large parts of the day Do you sometimes wake up stiff, and sore, as a board? It could be a mattress,a toddler (or spouse) pushing into you as you sleep. (In my case it’s a cat or dog 🙂 ) Or do you sit at a funny angle when sitting on the couch/behind the computer at work? That too can make your lower back pain worse.
So how do you fix this?
Well that kind of depends on the cause of it but a good post-natal program covers almost all the bases.
We always recommend seeing a pelvic floor physio post-natal. If you can swing the £40/$60 or so this visit usually sets you back this will be a very worth-while investment. Pelvic floor examinations, as you can imagine, can be quite delicate and a normal Personal trainer won’t be able to do one. Doing it yourself with the help of Dr Google is a minefield as the pelvic floor really is quite complex so scrape the pennies together and pay for an appointment. You could wait on an NHS physio being available but your kid will likely be off to uni before you get an appointment!
Core and glute activation is really key to any good program, This is the starting point. Getting your core, and glutes, to do their job again will help ease the pressure on your back. It really does not take too long to get this bit done but it does require targetted exercise and a bit of focus.
Sorting out posture and alignment By strengthening the correct muscles and stretching others we can help resolve any posture issues. Part of the alignment will be resolved by helping the glutes activate again, as mentioned above. The other bit is more to do with strengthening the upperback, especially the area around your shoulder blades and stretching the pectoral musles.
Strengthening up of the core and lifting/lift support muscles By doing the correct strengthening exercises we can make sure you’re more than capable of hoisting a tantrum throwing 23Kg weighing toddler out of the car without doing your back in. Again, at HPNB we class this as part of a post-natal exercise program and therefore we have “strength” sessions that help women of all fitness levels strengthen up the correct muscles.
And finally A bit of a stretch Especially for those of us who wake up with a stiff back this little back-mobility stretch will work wonders. If you combine it with a bit of the old Cat/Camel then you’re really laughing.
How Healthypostnatalbody.com can help
Our program is designed specifically to help you recover from all those post-natal issues such as lower back pain. The home routines, as well as the strength sessions, are targetting exactly the right areas for you. Because we go slightly further than most other post-natal programs our program put you in charge of your recovery. The first few months we target every area that will help, and the sessions are great for people at all fitness levels. After the 4 months you can choose which specific area you want to work on; legs and glutes, core or posture. This means that you’ll never need to buy an expensive “follow up” program, you can continue working with the experts you know. And, of course, you can always contact us via email or on the forums if you have any specific requirements.
So why not have a look and start your free trial today?
Take care of yourself, and your back.