The Best Lower Back Stretches During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can stress your body in multiple ways, says Cedars-Sinai, especially in weak areas like the lower back. Carrying more weight than you're used to on your midsection can stress your back and lead to pain, muscle soreness, and tension. Performing lower back stretches can help relieve pressure and discomfort during all stages of pregnancy.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, as pregnancy advances, the body releases the hormones progesterone and relaxin. These hormones cause the hips to widen and pelvic ligaments to relax, shifting the body's center of gravity. As the center of gravity shifts, body posture realigns. This shift in stance may cause nerve pain similar to that experienced by people with sciatica due to pinching of the sciatic nerve. Walnut Hill Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates describes sciatic nerve pain as feeling like a sharp pain in the legs, buttocks, or lower back. While pregnant women experiencing sciatic nerve pain are often misdiagnosed with sciatica, symptoms are usually temporary and should dissipate once the pregnancy is over.

Back pain may intensify after sitting for extended periods, sleeping in an awkward position, or overexerting your body during exercise or everyday activities. Fortunately, the Mayo Clinic says performing lower back stretches can help you feel your best throughout pregnancy.

Stretches to incorporate into your routine

Extended Child's Pose can be a great stretch during pregnancy. The Spine Correction Center advises using Extended Child's Pose for lower back pain relief during pregnancy. To do the pose, place your hands and knees on the ground. Hands should be shoulder-width apart, with knees comfortably apart. Slide hands forward, bringing the abdomen towards the floor as you stretch into a comfortable extended pose. Deepen the stretch by reaching fingertips forward. This stretch should feel comfortable at all times.

Cat-Cow is another simple yoga pose performed on hands and knees that Mayo Clinic says can relieve lower back pain for pregnant women. Place hands and knees on the ground shoulder-width apart. Inhale as you tilt your head slightly up, arching the back and allowing the belly to sink toward the floor. As you exhale, look down, round the back and tuck the abdomen in towards the spine. Repeat this series of movements slowly and gently, remaining mindful of your breath.

If you don't want to get on the floor or are experiencing sciatic nerve pain, Avera recommends the seated piriformis stretch. To do this stretch, sit on the edge of a chair. Rest the right ankle on the left knee. Take a deep breath, gently press the right hand onto the right knee, straighten the spine, and slowly lean forward on an exhale, keeping the back as straight as possible. Hold the pose for 15 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.