How Pilates Can Help Reduce Pain During Pregnancy

There are few experiences that are more joyous than the birth of a child and pregnancy is an amazing experience, but let’s face it: pregnancy is stressful on your body and isn’t always comfortable. Changes in hormones, metabolism, activity, and weight can put tremendous stresses and strains on your body, and that can lead to pain and discomfort.

Here are some of the most common musculoskeletal problems associated with pregnancy:

  • Low back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sacro-iliac joint pain
  • Postural changes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sciatica

Pain relief during pregnancy is especially complicated because you want to avoid medications as much as possible. Research shows that NSAIDs can have some negative effects on your baby1 and acetaminophen has been linked to ADHD in some studies.2

The key is to get relief from the muscle and joint problems linked to pregnancy without putting your baby at risk. Pilates is a great solution.

Pilates works by developing stability and strength of the muscles of your abdomen, hips, shoulders, and low back. By toning your core, Pilates can help you improve your posture and correct muscular imbalances that lead to poor biomechanics and pain.

The effectiveness of Pilates during pregnancy was was documented in a 2017 study3 that looked at 40 women who were suffering from pregnancy-related back pain. 20 of the women were given standard pregnancy-focused home exercises and the other 20 women participated in a Pilates group once a week for eight weeks.

At the end of the study, both groups of women had reduced back pain, but those who took the Pilates class had significantly lower pain scores than those who did home exercise.

The authors conclude:

“This would indicate that the Pilates workout is seemingly better than a common workout at reducing pain in the pregnant women in the third trimester. Researchers suspect that the reduction of pain in the pregnant women who performed Pilates was caused by a decrease in levels of the hormone relaxin, but this possibility will need to be evaluated further in future studies. The hormone relaxin serves to relax ligaments in the pelvis for the birthing process [8], and also relaxes the ligaments supporting the spine thus triggering pregnancy pain.”

So, if you’re looking for a healthy way to maintain your fitness and reduce pain during pregnancy, Pilates might be the perfect solution for you

  1. Nezvalová-Henriksen K, Spigset O, Nordeng H. Effects of ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen, and piroxicam on the course of pregnancy and pregnancy outcome: a prospective cohort study. BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. 2013;120(8):948-959. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12192.
  2. Ystrom E, Gustavson K, Brandlistuen RE, et al. Prenatal Exposure to Acetaminophen and Risk of ADHD. Pediatrics 2017 140(5). doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-3840.
  3. Oktaviani I. Pilates workouts can reduce pain in pregnant women. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2017 Nov 16. pii: S1744-3881(17)30392-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.11.007.