We will damage our spine if our posture isn’t perfect…
Have you ever tried to sit in ‘perfect posture’ for more than a couple of minutes… Its not comfy and it’s hard work.
The reason it is hard work and uncomfortable is because of the rigid nature of the position and, more importantly, the lack of variability, which doesn’t allow the body freedom to move naturally. We need to be more like bamboo, than an oak tree.
Is there such a thing as ‘Perfect Posture’?
Many physios and coaches are looking at posture and how someone stands and moves to try and find imperfections that maybe causing issues… but guess what everyone has imperfections.
Sometimes the awareness of an issue may create some feelings around negativity causing fear.
The Effect of Pregnancy on Your Body's Alignment
During pregnancy several things occur that work against maintaining correct alignment. The weight of the baby causes the lower back to sway as your centre of gravity move forward.
Your abdominal muscles become stretched as the baby grows. These muscles are less able to contract and keep your lower back stable and in good alignment. We also see hormone levels increase during pregnancy and cause joints and ligaments to loosen.
Common Pains and Issues During Pregnancy:
With your even growing baby, we see the body make use of the natural curves of the spine, particular in the lower back, where the position becomes exaggerated causing lower back pain.
The hips also expand sideways to help stabilise the body, putting pressure on the SI (sacroiliac) joints. With pregnancy hormones causing ligaments, cartilage and even bones to soften and become more pliable, we often feel pain in our pubis areas (area in the front lower part of the pelvis), often referred to as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.
Growing breasts can cause your shoulders to round forward and put pressure on your neck and shoulders, which may result in pain.
How to we improve our posture in pregnancy?
That’s right… improve… it is impossible for anyone to have perfect posture.
Working with a pregnancy qualified fitness expert is one way to make sure your body is strong and can tolerate the changes your body is making during this very special time. Incorporating specific strength training will help build up the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, along with other supporting tissue, which in turn will give you more stability and result in improved position… Those of you already strength training before pregnancy should find you have less issues than those who haven’t been.
Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Standing
Keep chin tucked in, so your shoulders and ears align.
Avoid standing in one position for too long
Avoid wearing high heels, as this will cause your body to shift forward even more.
When doing tasks, such as ironing, washing up, pop one foot on a stool to take the pressure off your lower back.
When brushing your teeth or doing a task that involves static standing for a long time, complete your pelvic tilt exercises… check out a routine you can follow on this blog
Maintaining Healthy Posture While Lying on Your Side
]Side lying can be great way to take stress of your lower back without reducing the blood to the placenta and your baby, especially the left side.
Place a pillow or feeding pillow between your legs to support the weight if your top leg and decrease low back strain
A pillow under your abdomen will help support the weight of your uterus
Place a pillow behind you for back support
Have a single pillow under your head, with a rolled-up towel placed inside the cover – to support your neck.
Maintaining Healthy Posture While Lying on Your Back
Whilst I don’t advocate lying on your back for long periods after Trimester 1 in pregnancy. The weight of the baby and your uterus can compress the large blood vessels and reduce blood flow and oxygen to the placenta and the baby.
If you do lie on your back, elevate your head and place a pillow under your knees, or keep your knees bent in order to tilt your pelvis and flatten your back.
General Lifting and Bending During Pregnancy
Hopefully you are engaging in some sort of fitness regime during your pregnancy. This will help with your overall strength. If you aren’t, I want to let you know you are more prone to back strain during pregnancy and after delivery, because the pregnancy hormones have softened your ligaments and joints.
To reach or lift objects low off the floor, spread your feet to shoulder width apart with one foot slightly further forward and bend your knees and push your hips back keeping your back straight
Make sure the object is close to you as you straighten your knees and lift the weight (maintaining a straight/flat back). This will make sure your legs are taking the load over your back.
Strength Training in Pregnancy to Improve Posture
This is by far the most important way to improve your posture during pregnancy…
For more info on exercise in pregnancy, check out my Exercise in Pregnancy Blog HERE.
Whilst there is no perfect posture, there is a lot we can do to help keep our body moving and pain free.
p.s. have you checked out Midwife Pips Courses
The Author: Coach James
James is an Exercise and Nutrition Scientist with a specialist interest in pregnancy and postpartum health and fitness. He has a Sports Science degree and is a fully qualified Pregnancy Personal Trainer. James believes that pregnancy is a powerful time to optimise your own health as well as your child and family's health for the future.
James has an extensive portfolio having worked within elite sports for many years from Premier League Football to Olympic and Commonwealth athletes and within leading independent schools. Being NSCA 'CSCS' accredited ensures that you can guarantee your pregnancy exercises and workouts designed by James will be both safe and effective.
Understanding that pregnancy and parenthood are precious times that can also encompass many challenges James's vision is to ensure that exercise and nutrition need not be one of those challenges for you.
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