Ease SPD in pregnancy
SPD affects over 16,000 pregnant women each year in the UK and can be either mild or severe in its presentation.
SPD (Symphisis pubis disorder) and Pre-Natal Exercise
Expectant Mums are becoming more health conscious than ever before and whether it be before, during or after falling pregnant that they embark on a positive, healthy lifestyle; it is important that they are doing so safely and sensibly to ensure they do not harm themselves in the process.
Read on to find out more about SPD and how you can both prevent occurring or from getting worse…
- The pelvis and its function
- What is SPD?
- Is Pre-Natal exercise safe if I have it?
- Exercises to avoid with SPD
- Exercises to help SPD
The pelvic joint is formed by the left and right pelvic bones coming together in the middle of the pubic region. Together with the sacroiliac joints the pubis symphysis has the important role of holding the pelvis together as a steady ring. During pregnancy, SPD can occur due to the increased relaxin levels in the body. The relaxin is produced to allow the ligaments in the pelvis to loosen allowing the pelvis itself to expand, offering an easier passage for the baby to be born.
Due to the situation with the relaxin as mentioned above, the pelvis can de-stabilise and be more prone to injury due to certain leg movements and everyday functions. Examples of this would be poor posture (particularly when lifting/pushing) or high impact exercise and exercises which encourage the legs to widen/separate. This condition would present itself when the small gap in the pubic joint (normally 4mm) would separate to 10mm or more. Following the separation, the Mum to be will experience pain which can vary from a mild ache to acute immobilisation.
As a fitness professional, I would always look for GP/Midwife referral on this as every woman is different and will experience this condition at a different level. If the condition is in a mild form then there are still many ways of maintaining your fitness level and it will very much be a case of ‘listening to your own body’, (if it hurts don’t do it!). The key areas that you should be aiming to strengthen are once again the good old pelvic floor and also the transverse abs. It is important to remember that whilst exercise cannot realign joints or tighten ligaments affected by the hormone relaxin, it CAN help to stabilise the pelvis by strengthening the muscles that support it.
- Whilst swimming is great and allows a degree of support, breast stroke should be avoided
- Any exercise which encourages the legs to widen such as:
- Martial arts based activities or classes where kicks/roundhouse kicks are involved
- Wide legged squats
- Other high impact activities
- Modified Squats – The same as a normal squat but using a chair/window sill to hold on to for support and having the feet positioned no wider than hip width apart.
- Pelvic tilts – kneeling on all fours, abdominals contracted, tilt pubic bone towards your belly button creating a small pelvic tilt. Keep movements slow and controlled avoiding excessive spinal movement. Hold for a count of 10 and release for a count of 10. Do 10 reps, and then repeat if you can.
- Modified super mans (or super Mums!) – again you should position yourself on all fours and like a regular superman raise your left leg and right arm off the floor but only by 1cm or so. Hold the position for 10 seconds each way doing 10 reps in total. Rest and repeat if you can.
- Kegels (pelvic floor) – As explained in some of my previous articles the pelvic floor responds to two main different styles of exercise. In a nutshell, you need to do both fast and slow types of contractions. So for the faster ones contract the muscles which prevent the flow of urine for a couple of seconds and then release at the same pace. For the slower ones imagine your pelvic floor is an elevator and contract the muscle slowly from ‘floor’ 1 to ‘floor’ 5 and then back from 5 to 1.
Do your pelvic floor exercises whenever you can and whenever you remember to do them, but do make the effort to build them into your daily life before, during and after pregnancy!
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Photography: Sarah M Stewart @Flickr