As I have alluded to over my last couple of pregnancy updates, I have been dealing with some major back pain for the last 4 weeks or so. It started mild and progressed to constant and persistent over time. I was feeling it in my low back to the right of my sacrum and no where else. With my background in anatomy and physiology and regular yoga practice I began to assume something was out of alignment and not necessarily baby related.
I finally turned to Facebook to see if anyone had suggestions for me. To be honest, 98% of my friends suggested a chiropractor. While people swear by them I have never been and to be honest they kind of freak me out. Not to mention my military insurance doesn’t cover it and all expenses would be out of pocket. So thank goodness my friend Daniele Britt reached out to me.
If you remember, I attended a hip focused yoga workshop at Awakening Yoga Studio that Daniele taught. Daniele is trained in Therapeutic, Yin, Sivananda, Vinyasa and Restorative forms of yoga and has been teaching for over 12 years. Her experience dealing with injury in recovery is exceptional. Since I am already a dedicated yoga practitioner, meeting with her and coming up with a plan felt like the best option for me. And I am SO SO SO glad I did.
Two weeks ago Daniele and I met at AYS (Lisa was kind enough to let us use the studio) to assess my situation and come up with a plan. Daniele agreed that my pelvis was out of alignment and that my left hip was rolling forward and down and I tend to have a posterior pelvic tilt going on. I call is suffering from “mom hip”. Moms, you know the hip I am talking about? The one you stick out to put your baby on? Yup. I put Em on my right hip which throws the left out of whack and having a 30+ pound toddler concentrated on one side makes it worse. Luckily she knew exactly what to do.
These are the exercises Daniele told me to try. She also told me to avoid all twists until I got my back pain under control. I took the photos to help you see what the cues are indicating but understand that I am not perfect nor a yoga instructor. The cues though are directly from Daniele.
Before getting started, it is important to identify what a neutral pelvis feels like. You do this by laying on your back with your feet bent. Placing your hands in a triangle, you mimic your pubic bone on your pelvis. The triangle should be flat, with neither your fingers or thumbs above the other.
1. Pelvic Tilts
Inhale and relax. On the exhale, you move, curling your tailbone up and pressing the vertebrae above the one you’re lifting into your mat, then lift. Pause and inhale. Exhale, and curl back town. Imagine you’re laying a pearl necklace down one by one and each vertebrae is a pearl. Repeat and continue for about three minutes.
2. Pelvic Shimmy
Make sure your pelvis is neutral before starting. This one is hard to show by picture, but essentially you’re shimmying one hip at a time to the side. Imagine you’re buffing your map. It’s a lengthening and shortening movement.
3. Isometric Pressure
**Note: I only do this on my right leg since it’s my left side that is out of alignment. Raise your right leg to 90 degrees. Press your right hand into your thigh while pushing your thigh also into your hand. Left leg pushes into the floor. Keep your right foot extended for counter-pressure. Hold for a few breaths and then relax.
4. Wide Leg Forward Fold
Start with your feet wider than hip distance apart and your toes turned slightly outward. Do a couple of standing pelvic tilts and feel your booty “tuck” and “untuck” to find neutral. Take a deep inhale in. As you exhale, fold forward with a flat back and with your hands on your hips. Pause halfway down. Continue, placing your hands on the floor.
5. Half Dog at Wall
With your feet under your hips, hinge from your hips and press your hands into the wall. Arms should be in alignment with shoulders or just above. (**Clearly my arms are a little off – my elbows hyperextend). Inhale and let your belly drop. Exhale and pull your belly to your spine, lift your hips and feel your hamstrings stretch. Your partner can also pull your hips back while you press into the wall. I love when Chris does this!
6. One Leg Dog at Wall
With your feet together and your hands pressing into the wall, lift your right leg on an inhale. Focus on an internal rotation of the leg with your toes pointed down, foot flexed, and hips even. Hold longer on your weaker side.
I have been doing the above exercises whenever my back started to ache during the last 2 weeks. It has helped tremendously and I honestly no longer go to bed in immense pain. While I know back aches over the next few months are likely and expected, it is nice to be able to relieve some of the discomfort right now. As always, talk to a medical professional if you’re dealing with any issues in exercise or pregnancy before starting something new.
**Local Peeps! Awakening Yoga Studio is hosting Daniele Britt for a Back Care Workshop on August 18 from 1:30-3:30 in the afternoon. I am bummed I will be out of town but if you’re local I highly recommend attending. Cost is $30 if you register before August 17 before and you can sign up HERE.