Backaches and pains due to the growing belly don't usually appear until the second half of pregnancy or later. The production of the hormone relaxin begins early in the pregnancy to make a woman's joints more flexible in preparation for pushing the baby through the birth canal. This hormone causes back pain within a week or two of conception through birth. Stretching is one way to reduce pain and strengthen the back.
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A simple exercise a pregnant woman can do to strengthen and stretch her sore back muscles is a forward bend. This is done by sitting in a chair with relaxed arms and bending forward slowly, keeping the arms in front and allowing them to dangle down. The bend should only be taken as far as is comfortable and held for 5 seconds before slowly returning to the upright position. Repeat this exercise five times.
Rocking Back Arch
A back arch stretch is completed by resting on the hands and knees with the back straight. The woman can then rock from front to back, nearly resting her bottom on her heels before returning to the starting position. This rock should be done five times before returning to the original position and curling the back up as far as possible, resembling an arch. This stretch should be repeated five to 10 times.
Arch and Sink
Similar to the rocking arch, a woman can arch and sink her back to tense and relax the different sets of back muscles. The first step is to arch the back up towards the ceiling for a count of five, return to the starting position and sink the tummy to create a bend in the back towards the floor, or a U-shaped curve. This position is to be held for a count of five before returning to the starting position.
Sitting on an exercise ball can strengthen a pregnant woman's core without requiring her to perform potentially harmful abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. Just sitting on the ball with good posture, a straight spine and feet planted just wider than the shoulders can use the core muscles in the stomach and back.
Resting the back against the exercise ball while it is on the floor can help stretch the back safely. This can be done by sitting on the ball and walking the feet away from the ball until low back and shoulders are touching the ball. Gently rocking up and down in this position can stretch the back.