Experiencing lower back pain after having a baby is very common! Your body just went through the process of growing a human for 9 months and then delivering your bundle (or bundles!!) of joy!
Your body is now in a state of new normal. It doesn't "go back" to being quite the same as before! In some aspects it is forever changed by the process of pregnancy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
The changes in your posture that occur during pregnancy can lead to tightness in some muscles or poor alignment as well as weakness and loss of strength and this can lead to back and neck pain postpartum.
Postpartum your body is rapidly adjusting to its new normal - hormones are re-adjusting, your once pregnant belly is shrinking as your uterus returns to its resting state, the demand on your pelvis is changing, your posture is changing and you're likely losing both fluid and weight in the first few weeks! There is a LOT going on!
So why does your back often
Well, largely, due to the process of delivery (and the rapid changes that follow) and the changes to yourcore muscles. Without a strong, supportive core your spine can lack support and control that it once had and this can lead to discomfort and pain.
Your "core" is made up of a few more muscles than just your abdominal area = I also like to include the glutes (bottom muscles) and, of course, the paraspinals (muscles next to your spine on either side) which are all involved in providing support to your back!
The abdominal wall is one of the areas of the body that changes the most during pregnancy. The wall becomes stretched around growing baby and in the third trimester almost all women will have some level of abdominal separation; check out this blog for more information about "Diastasis Recti" (tummy muscle separation).
This process is entirely normal and postpartum you may need help in establishing a strong core again! That's where Physiotherapist's come in!
The rectus abdominus muscles (commonly known as your "6 pack" muscles) are joined by a piece of fascia called your "linea alba". It is important to establish good tension and activation through this area in order to form a strong and controlled abdominal wall (which in turn supports your organs, controls your trunk and prevents pesky back pain!).
In order to activate and draw the linea alba to a more "closed" or "taut" position postpartum you need to learn to activate your deepest core muscles - transverse abdominis.
As this muscle stretches to accommodate baby during pregnancy - it needs a) healing time and b)retraining in order to resume its function of stabilising the spine, supporting the front wall of your abdominals and teaming up with your pelvic floor to support your "core control" functions!
What about the glutes? How do they tie in to lower back pain?
Without strong glutes to support your leg and hip position, your back will get cranky! Your glutes are responsible for controlling and stabilising your hip and pelvis as well as movement of your leg (a.k.a they are working hard!). During pregnancy - there is a LOT more going on in your pelvis so your glutes are often working EXTRA hard!
Post pregnancy, your pelvis needs strong glutes and good control in your deep hip rotator muscles in order for your hip and leg to interact well. If the don't? Then you'll have tight muscles, cranky muscles and likely lower back pain!
Getting strong glutes isn't just about doing lots of squats (although, I do love recommending squats!), it's about retraining movement in the hip, working on those little muscles (as pictured on the right in the above image) and establishing good patterns that you then load and build upon to get STRONG!
Great, I know I need strong now but what about the mean-time? I'm hurting - Can you help me?
- massage (we also have AMAZING massage therapists)
- trigger points
- heat packs (definitely a home favourite for most clients!)