Bye Bye Back Pain! 5 quick moves to help you move well and feel well.
The sacroiliac joints, often referred to as the SI joints (one on each side of the back of your pelvis) are incredibly stable joints. They are surrounded by many ligaments, and can only move a few millimetres.
During pregnancy, these ligaments soften and loosen due to the Relaxin hormone in the body helping to prepare space for a growing baby and for birth. The Relaxin effects can continue well into the postpartum time too. When these joints lose the support of the ligaments around them it can cause mild to severe discomfort in the low back, hips or pubic area!
When working as a Pilates Specialist with clients during pregnancy and during postpartum recovery, balanced muscle development of the pelvis becomes a big focus! We want you to be comfortable and to spend your time preparing and caring for your baby, not feeling debilitated!
The SI joints, don’t have one main muscle that moves them, instead, there are somewhere between 30-36 muscles that influence these two joints. Focusing on both strengthening and releasing all of these muscles will offer better function and less discomfort.
Here are a few very common and easy exercises which you can do at home to help create support for your Sacroiliac Joints. If you feel any discomfort stop and seek help from a movement professional!
Working the Muscles
The Clam Variations:
The set up: Side-Lying, head, back and bottom in alignment as if you’re up against a wall. Knees bent at about a 45* angle. If this position is uncomfortable in your back, hips or pubic bone area, put a pillow between your legs. Keep the underside of your torso lifted- no slouching into the floor.
1) Lift both feet and shins up off the mat keeping your knees and thighs down. Open and close your top knee and aim to keep from wobbling. This should feel like a balance challenge. Then put your feet and shins back on the mat and open and close the top knee thinking about giving a gentle squeeze to the dimple of your bum cheek. This one should feel like you start to get a warming sensation in your bum cheek. Try for about 10 of each. Click here for an example.
2) This time keep your knees together and lift your foot and shin to inwardly rotate the leg. This should feel like your wrapping the muscles inward and doesn’t usually burn, in fact, it often feels relieving. 10-15x. Click here for an example.
3) Put both of the above exercises together. Lift your top leg to a hover over your bottom leg and alternate between bringing your knees together and your heels together. This should create some good feedback or warming in the side of your hip and leg! Try for about 10x. Click here for an example.
To balance out the outer hip muscles we need to work the inner thigh.
Double Adductor Squeeze:
The set up: Sitting upright in a chair, aim to sit up on your sit bones or just think of staying tall. Put a soft ball, about the size of a soccer ball, or a pillow between your knees.
Gently squeeze your inner thighs and knees together to squish the ball/ pillow. Coordinate the squeeze with an exhale, inhale to release. Try exhaling as if you were blowing out a candle and it should make your belly and waistline gently “hug in” as well (if you know “Core Breath”, this is where to use it!) For a bonus challenge do this while holding a parallel squat! Click here for an example.
Releasing the Muscles
To release these muscles you can do a standing figure four stretch or you can sit right on a small, soft ball and give your bottom a good massage or just roll on your bottom on a firm surface. Click here for an example.
These are great exercises for helping create stability in your pelvis but also for working your core and recruiting the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are safe for pregnancy and postpartum recovery and can aid in the healing of Diastasis Recti and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.
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Ruth has enjoyed watching many bodies change, stay functional and become powerful humans. Education is at the centre of her approach, believing that knowledge is power and that informing our minds and bodies will help build an extraordinary life experience. Creative by nature and armed with an excellent knowledge of functional anatomy and physiology of pregnancy & birth, Ruth loves working with all sorts of bellies, babies and bodies!