Yes, it is almost inevitable—the dreaded back pain during pregnancy. Luckily there are a few things you can do to significantly reduce your back pain to a comfortable level.

Because your stomach area is now extended, the alignment of your spine tends to move into a position that it is not used to. This misalignment also puts stress on the spine which can cause a great deal of discomfort and lower back pain. One of the best ways to avoid this is to pay close attention to your posture, especially when you’re sitting. You want to be sure, if sitting for more than a few minutes, you sit in a chair that has a straight back and arms as well as a firm cushion. You should use a foot rest to keep your feet slightly elevated and be sure not to cross your legs, which can cause misalignment or lack of support from your hip and pelvis area. If you’re going to be sitting for a while, try to get up and stand, stretch or take a few steps at least once every hour.

Another thing you can do to prevent lower back pain is to make sure you’re wearing the right shoes. While you probably know you shouldn’t be wearing super high heels, you should also try to avoid wearing shoes that are completely flat. The best heel height would be about 2 inches, this helps keep the spine in a good alignment.

If the damage has already been done and you’re feeling that pain you can soothe the sore back muscles by applying an ice pack wrapped in cloth for 15 minutes, then switch it to a heating pad for 15 minutes. You could also take a hot bath or let a warm shower soothe your back (this works best if you have a pulsating shower head as it acts as a massage).

There are also a few stretches you can do to prevent back pain from getting worse. For the first one you sit with your behind elevated on a folded blanket or short stool, without it being under your thighs. Then fold your right knee to your side at a 90 degree angle so that your right heel touches your right groin. Then place a strap, belt or sock around the sole of your left foot, straighten your arms and lift your chest. Then while contracting your thigh, extend the sole of your left foot forward. Press off your sit bones equally and stretch your spine vertically and rotate your right thigh outwards while your torso is facing the left leg. Hold this stretch for 10 deep breaths then release and repeat on the other side.

Another stretch is the simple squat. Stand with your feet just a little wider than hip width apart. Inhale, then as you exhale squat to the flower lowering your buttocks to the maximum squat position you feel comfortable with. Then place your hands on the floor right in front of you and as you inhale press your hands into the floor. You will then raise your buttocks and sweep your arms out to your sides. While you can squat deeper each time you do this, be sure you’re not straining anything and your feet remain firmly on the floor and you always use your hands pressing into the floor to help you come out of the squat.

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