Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are You Suffering from Hip and Lower Back pain During Your Pregnancy?

You could have a Pelvic Instability.

This can be avoided and also addressed with specific pregnancy and post natal exercises. You do not need to be suffering from this condition during your pregnancy. It is avoidable!

What is Pelvic Instability?
Also known as SPD (symphysis pubic dysfunction), pelvic girdle pain, diastasis symphysis pain

Pelvis instability can be extremely painful or just mildly frustrating. It happens more commonly during pregnancy and post pregnancy due to the pregnancy hormones Progesterone and Relaxin.
These 2 hormones soften and loosen ligaments. This loosening of the ligaments needs to happen during pregnancy so you can give birth as it widens your hips. This is how the problems arise.
You have 2 joints in your pelvis. The Sacroiliac Joint in the centre of your pelvis and at the bottom of the pelvis is your Symphysis Pubis Joint. Muscles and Ligaments cross these joints.

Your pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments to loosen which makes them longer and weaker it also make the joints become unstable in your pelvis.
A small amount of movement is ok but too much movement causes increased pelvis instability which then leads to aches and pain.
Instability in the sacroiliac joint or the symphysis pubic joint can cause either SPD, sciatic pain or both. You can feel a number of pains and symptoms associated with Pelvis Instability:-

• Pain at the symphsis pubis joint- can feel like a hot poker type of pain
• Pain in the groin which radiates into your adductors (inner thigh muscles)
• Pain whilst walking and you can start to waddle during your 2nd Tri-mester
• Increased pain standing on one leg
• Pain and aches around your hip and lower back

Is this Avoidable and how can I avoid this?
With corrective exercise and good pregnancy posture you can help minimize pelvic instability.

Increased Pelvic instability is caused by weaknesses in your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles; these are your hip stabilizing muscles. Many women suffer from weak ‘glute’ muscles as we just don’t use them! We sit down on them for long periods, have poor posture and adopt standing and seated positions along with carrying young children incorrectly which all increase muscle imbalances!

If you can increase the strength in these 2 muscle groups it will reduce the chances of developing lower back and hip pains associated with pelvic instabilities during your pregnancy and beyond. Strengthening the muscles at any stage during your pregnancy will be of great benefit. These exercises should also be performed post pregnancy to avoid pelvic instability post birth.

I advise and program the corrective exercises you should be doing during your pregnancy and beyond in the on-line Pregnancy and Post Natal exercise programs that I sell on-line at

Here are a some examples of exercises and stretches you need to do to reduce and prevent hip and lower back pain and discomfort:-

Stretch: I.T Band(illiotibial band)/ T.F.L (Tensor fasciae latae)/Quadriceps- These muscle groups are normally dominant and need to be stretched prior to strengthening the gluteus medius muscle to increase activation in the weakened muscle:

Side Lying leg lift:
Strengthens Gluteus Medius performed properly this is a great exercise. It is important that you feel the correct muscle engage and you don’t dominate the exercise using your quadriceps muscles (thigh muscles) Keep your pelvis vertival, avoid leaning back, try to keep your body straight. Take the leg back slightly placing your hand on the muscle you are trying to activate (gluteus medius). Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 lifts

Ballerina’s: Exercise to increase functional hip stability, increases gluteus medius and gluteus maximus strength. This is an advanced exercise and not done during the first stages of re-hab

Swiss ball glute Bridge: Increases glute strength do this during your 1st and 2nd Tri-mesters you should not feel this exercise in your lower back . Concentrate on pushing through your heels to engage your muscles correctly. Aim to do 2-3 sets of 10 reps

I have a full program guide and exercise description of these exercises and many more on my face book page:Pregnancy Exercise and all these exercises are included in the Pregnancy Exercise Programs available at

Poor Gluteus medius activation

If you have pain then you need to avoid lunges and walking until you have good muscle activation and hip control or avoid these exercises until post pregnancy. You still need to do the hip stabilizing exercises post birth before a walking program commences.
Exercise you can still do and enjoy with pelvic instability and discomfort that will not increase pain are cycling and swimming and you can do re-habilitation exercises 3-5 times a week along with a specific pregnancy or post natal exercise program

Positions that should be avoided:-

• Sitting with crossed legs-this increases a muscle imbalance and a weakness in the gluteus medius muscle
• Standing on one hip- again increases hip separation
• Carrying young children on one hip-as above-try to carry in the centre of your body and if you have to carry on one hip try to make sure that your hip bones are level
• Sleeping with no pillow support in-between your knees -read my article on sleeping positions during pregnancy for the best sleeping position to avoid hip instability:

Purchase a Pre & Post Natal Exclusive Video Link For Just $9.99nz
A 20min exercise video that shows you the exercise program you need to follow to reducle lower back and hip pain pre and post pregnancy:

Pre and Post Pregnancy Exercise Programs are also available to purchase from my website.

If you have any questions about this article please comment or Post on facebook:
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If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice the information is used as guidelines. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.


  1. This is sure such great info! Oh how I would love to have you guest blog about this sometime!

  2. Thanks Bethany, yes that would be fun!

  3. I found that to get rid of my lower back pain while pregnant I got down on my hands and knees and arched my back, it helped baby to move to another position and relieved pressure from my back and sciatic nerve

  4. My SPD was so bad, my partner had to roll me over in bed at night at least 3-5 times and i would be in tears every time, it took upwards of 5 mins to get out of bed, i had a brace to wear during the day walking was so hard i refused to leave the house in the last few weeks, i sat on a yoga ball all the time as it took pressure off and i would roll or bounce on it. i was to be induced at exactly 40 weeks as dr didnt want me to go over. i had my second beautiful girl at 39+2 and my pelvis actually seperated with a crack, no pain relief during the birth and the seperation was more painful than birth. i wish there was more info when i was pregnant. my girl is now 8 weeks old i have been off strong painkillers for 3 weeks and only get tail bone pain..

  5. Thanks so much for this information. Now that my baby has been born my pelvis is somewhat improved but i would ideally like to be exercising more. What would you recommend and what should i avoid? I am assuming something like Zumba would be out! Thanks

  6. HI Michy, thanks for your post. Come and have a look at the fab post pregnancy exercise program that I sell on my website and you can get the special offer until 31st of this month if you use this link ;-)

  7. Thanks for the informative post. Now it's the 3rd month of my baby inside. And I am now experiencing the back pain. But I don't need to worry now because I can prevent it using your tips and exercises.

    Best regards,
    chiropractor in seattle

  8. Thank you so much for your information.I gained great information about your post.

    total hip pain

  9. Hi I have been doing your pregnancy exercise program since my first trimester, including the exercises mentioned above. I am now 34 weeks and just started getting some pubic symphysis pain- does that mean I need to do more of the exercises than the regular program? The pain isn't too bad, so maybe it is just an inevitable part of pregnancy?

    1. Hi Rachael, you can have a large hormone release around this stage so a few days of your SIJ and or PSJ can be quite normal. Are you doing any walking?
      If so I would suggest you stop for the next 4-5 days and see if it gets better, let me know how you get on, Lorraine