Exercises That Relieve PSD in Pregnancy

PSD, which stands for pubic symphysis dysfunction, is more commonly known as symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD. A more general term for this disorder is pelvic girdle pain, a condition that affects about one in five pregnant women, according to GP Online. SPD occurs when the joint ligaments connecting the two halves of the pelvis soften in preparation for giving birth, allowing more movement in the pelvic joints, which can cause pain and inflammation in the pelvic region.

A pregnant woman practicing yoga. (Image: ferlistockphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Causes and Symptoms

According to Baby Centre, a combination of pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments in the pelvic joint to soften, which can lead to SPD. Pain associated with SPD usually comes on gradually, beginning around the 20th week. Pain is usually felt in the back, pelvis or hips, and can also be felt along the inner thighs. It might also be accompanied by a feeling of grinding or clicking in the pubic area. It’s usually worse at night, and can be exacerbated by movements or activities that cause the hips to open up, such as walking, stair climbing, squatting, or turning over in bed.

Do Your Kegels

Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor can help balance the pelvic bones and reduce their movement, which should reduce pain and inflammation, according to pregnancy coach and personal trainer Wendy Powell. These include kegel exercises, which involve contracting the pelvic floor muscles as if trying to prevent yourself from urinating or passing gas. Kegels can be done practically anywhere, and as often as you’re comfortable doing them.

Pelvic Tilt or Cat Stretch

The pelvic tilt, or the cat stretch pose in yoga, in which you get on hands and knees and pull the belly button toward the spine, arching the back like a cat and tilting the pelvis forward, is also a commonly prescribed pelvic exercise for SPD. This exercise also helps to strengthen the core muscles and improve stability. The pelvic tilt can also be done in other positions, including standing against a wall or sitting on a stability ball.

Exercises to Avoid

Although some exercise can help to relieve pain and symptoms of SPD, it’s best to avoid exercises involving weights or heavy lifting, as these can throw the pelvic bones off balance and worsen the pain. Exercises that involve spreading the legs more than hip width, such as the breaststroke in swimming, should also be avoided. Walking, especially with long strides, is also not recommended, according to Well Mother. In general, before attempting any exercise program during pregnancy, it’s best to first consult with your obstetrician. She may refer you to an obstetric physiotherapist who can help you develop the best course of treatment and physical therapy.

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