During nine months of pregnancy and the act of delivering a new life into this world, a woman’s core musculature including the abdominals, pelvic floor, and diaphragm all go through profound transformation. It is true that our body holds the keys to full recovery, but what if you or someone you know is struggling with low back discomfort, instability, or simply does not feel she is returning to optimal function as quickly or completely as hoped?
I know with the pregnancy and birth of all three of our sons I tried to stay as active and fit as possible, but still the restoration to full capacity and core strength was a long process. Let’s take a quick look at the research. First, I found it interesting and somewhat comforting that after reviewing multiple studies there was no association between postpartum low back pain and whether the new mom chose to have epidural anesthesia or not. Understandably, there was a 75% report of back pain immediately following birth. More concerning are the numerous studies that followed up our new moms at 1-2 months who continue to show a 40-44% incidence of back pain. This number does decline significantly by the 6 month mark, but any number of months with pain are concerning. The reason is because our bodies do not, cannot, restore proper movement patterns when we are in pain. So, even though the pain may no longer be reported at 6 months, that does not mean we are miraculously moving in optimal patterns again. Unfortunately, this continued altered neuromuscular control and associated instability is a common set up for injury.
The fact above is validated through another study looking at the factors that correlated to persistent low back pain in postpartum moms. These factors included the presence of back pain before pregnancy, presence of back pain during pregnancy, physically heavy work during postpartum time frame, and multiple pregnancies. The fact that physically heavy work during the postpartum time frame was the number one correlation in this study should motivate us to pause. This highlights that the body requires graded loads and activity level following pregnancy, and that any history of back pain is a strong predisposition for more back pain in the future.
We all want to get back to our pre-baby physical shape, athletics, and activities as soon as possible, but we have to be smart about it. This fall at the Center for Healing and Regenerative Medicine we are launching a Postpartum Wellness Program utilizing a variety of state of the art therapies including the body weight off-loaded, closed kinetic chain Redcord® Neurac® Method to help you or the moms you love recover, restore, and renew. Whether it was one month or three years ago – – your body performed a miracle and may benefit from a 1:1 opportunity to reestablish proper patterns again. Therapies that guide you through postural restoration to remind your body how to best breathe under proper stabilization, and coordination of deep core control while moving in efficient motor patterns can all help your body regain full capacity and a safe return to all the activities and levels of physical performance you so deserve.