The 5 best exercises for lower back pain in pregnancy

Struggling with back pain in pregnancy? Need to know what exercises to do?

Having a baby can be joyful and daunting at the same time.

The thrills and spills of every trimester bring new challenges and new opportunities to experience the delight of motherhood.

But with all of the joys that come with pregnancy, there can also be a range of pregnancy-related physical changes and symptoms that can be tricky to overcome.

One of the most common complaints is back pain in pregnancy.

This article gives you 5 pilates-based exercises to help you ease your discomfort and feel more mobile so you can get on with your day with less pain.

How pilates exercises help for back pain in pregnancy

Clinical Pilates can help you:

  • Prevent pain
  • Maintain strength
  • Reduce stress
  • Decrease your risk of developing diastasis recti (tummy gap) and pelvic floor problems

Best of all, it’s fun and shown to improve the pregnancy experience in women too!

These low-impact exercises (no bounding or jumping) offer significant benefits, including enhancing your breathing, and helping you build and maintain strength throughout your pregnancy.

This can help prepare your body for carrying your baby and support your recovery after birth, regardless of whether you have a vaginal delivery or caesarean section.

More upsides to Pilates are that you can do it with or without equipment and it’s very versatile. So you can adapt it to your needs and abilities as you progress through your recovery.

At our clinics, we offer clinical pilates sessions tailored to your condition using props when necessary, such at the Pilates ring and Swiss ball.

Although we may use props to enhance the impact of the exercises in clinic, we also show you how to do your exercises at home without any equipment. So you can practice them as regularly as you like.

How to do these pregnancy exercises safely when you have back pain

In the video below you’ll see the top 5 exercises we recommend for pregnant patients experiencing back pain.

Before you do the exercises, it’s important to keep these precautions in mind so you don’t worsen your pain or cause further injury:

  • Ensure you have enough floorspace and room around you for performing the exercises.
  • Listen to your body; don’t push through pain. If something doesn’t feel right, take a break, or skip the exercise.
  • Try not to look at the screen while you’re doing the exercises. It can affect your balance and may hurt your neck. Instead, watch the demonstration then pause it. Do the exercise, then go back and continue to the next one.



Tips for getting these pregnancy back pain exercises right (and why they work)

Exercise 1: Lateral breathing

Lateral breathing will:

  •  Enhance your joint position sense (proprioception)
  •  Increase your lung capacity (how much air your lungs can hold)
  •  Lengthen your spine
  •  Condition your deep abdominal muscles (core)

Exercise 2: Thoracic rotation

Thoracic rotation is key to reducing lower back pain because it helps stabilise and strengthen your lower back muscles, which take on more and more load as your baby grows.

The trick is keeping your waist and hips facing forward, while your ribs and shoulders rotate around your central axis.

Exercise 3: Quadruped hip hinge

A crucial skill to master to prevent lower back pain and control it when it flares, is being able to move your hips without moving your pelvis.

In pregnancy, your pelvic ligaments can become more mobile as a result of hormonal and weight distribution changes. This can cause your pelvis to lose some of its support functions and resulting in lower back pain.

This exercise helps add extra support in your pelvis while moving your hips.

Exercise 4: Quadruped lateral rotation

Similarly to exercise 2, here we focus on opening the chest, whilst keeping the lower back stable.

Notice the difference between stabilising the pelvis here and during exercise 2: Which one did you find easier?

Exercise 5: Semi supine pelvic rotation

This is the most challenging exercise (that’s why it comes last).

As you shift your weight from the left to the right side of your pelvis, focus on maintaining a neutral curve in your back.

Imagine your tailbone always being the heaviest point, with a sense of lightness in the lower back.

Keeping the two sides of your pelvis aligned (without dropping one half during the rotation) helps to strengthen the pelvic ligaments and balances out the pregnancy-related changes mentioned above.


These exercises will help you enjoy your pregnancy more by reducing your back pain. They work by improving your posture and keeping your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles strong and functional well.

Things to remember:

  • Make sure to practice these exercises regularly so your muscles remain balanced throughout your pregnancy.
  • Exercises should feel comfortable and no movement should be too difficult – always modify where necessary!
  • If you still experience pain or the exercises aren’t getting easier after a few weeks, you may need a hands-on physiotherapy assessment and individual treatment to get to the root of your problem and heal it.

If you’re experiencing back pain after pregnancy, our Mummy MOT sessions can help you identify the causes.

Need some help getting started or progressing with these exercises?

Prefer to see a specialist physiotherapist in person to assess and treat your pain properly?

Book an appointment with us today and we’ll help you get back on your feet as soon as possible and feeling like yourself again in no time.

Specialist Pilates for pregnancy

In our recent blog, we talked about back pain during pregnancy. Let’s take a look at how a specialist Pilates programme can support the health and good functioning of the pelvic floor in women and men, thus mitigating the risk of developing back pain and reducing it when it occurs.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a system of training for the body and mind, based on principles created by Joseph Pilates.

By fostering a deep connection between body and mind this incredibly graceful exercise, creates a unique awareness and focus. Pilates practice leads to an intense and deeply satisfying workout, which leaves you feeling stronger, more flexible and at ease in your body.

During a Pilates session at Vitality, you use a range of small props (such as bands, balls, and weights) and equipment, including the Reformer.

Pilates is the optimal complement to other physical rehabilitation and training programmes, such as physiotherapy, because:

  • It helps re-integrate the injured joint with the rest of the body.

  • It restores and re-trains optimal movement patterns, to prevent the recurrence of issues.

  • It addresses the postural factors that contribute to injury and pain.

The powerful changes that Pilates can bring

How does Pilates help pelvic floor issues?

Pilates exercises can mitigate and improve the following conditions caused by pelvic floor issues:

  • Back pain.

  • Urinary incontinence.

  • Anal and vaginal air.

  • Recovery from vaginal birth and episiotomies.

  • Prolapse.

  • Pelvic floor muscle disorder and pain.

A Pilates-based pelvic floor reconditioning programme focuses on:

  • Training the deep core muscles of the inner unit (transversus abdominis, multifidi, diaphragm). This means conditioning these muscles and learning how to coordinate them.

  • Developing efficient breathing mechanics. Optimal intra-abdominal pressure is needed to ensure the correct functioning of the pelvic floor muscles.

What does this look like in practice?

During a Pilates session at Vitality, our specialist will take you through a series of exercises to condition:

  • The abdominal muscles (lower abdominal fibers and transversus abdominis). For instance, you will perform exercises in a supine position where the spine is neutral and the hips move, e.g. lifting your legs up.

  • The back extensors. For instance, exercises in a prone or standing position where the spine is extended or stabilised against gravity, e.g. moving your limbs when in four-point kneeling.

  • The diaphragm. For instance, breathing exercises to practice coordinating the different muscles in the inner unit, and to practice moving in sync with different breathing patterns, e.g. the classic Pilates exercise ‘Hundred’.


How do I know if I need this?

If you are experiencing lower back pain or any other of the symptoms listed above, book your assessment with us. Our experts will determine the root cause of your issue and develop a personalised programme tailored to your needs and goals.

Top 5 Summer injuries and how to prevent them

1. Gardening injuries

We kicked off June with a very balmy Jubilee weekend and it’s been a brilliant summer so far! If you enjoy a chilled glass of rosé, weekend BBQs, and a spot of gardening too, you’ve found good company!

Gardening injuries, however, are quite common, so here are some handy hints to help you get the most of your long summer days. Extended pruning time, using inappropriate tools, and heavy lifting with poor technique are often the biggest culprits!

Try the following to keep your love for gardening alive:

  • Warm up before you weed-up! Try taking a brisk walk to get your heart rate up, prior to starting your gardening session.
  • Sit on a stool or kneel on foam pads to help prevent knee and back pain when planting or weeding.
  • Long handle tools will reduce the work and prevent you from overstretching.
  • Impose a 20-minute limit (to make a cuppa of course) to take a short break especially if you’re a gardening novice!

Don’t spoil a perfect day in the garden with a pesky injury! If you have any questions about an injury or wondered whether we can help, book a free 15min call to chat about how we could help you.

2. Neck strains

If catching some rays on your back is a priority this summer, be sure to set a timer or get someone to wake you. Apart from the obvious perils of turning into a lobster and the pain associated with it, getting a stiff neck from lying prone (on your tummy) on the beach will certainly put a damper on your holiday. Reading for long periods on a sun lounger can also cause a crick in the neck, so be sure to do a few neck stretches every so often to keep your neck mobile. Here are some useful neck stretches to try. 

  • Tilt your head to one side and hold for 15-20 sec and then to the other side. 
  • Roll your shoulders forwards 5 times and then backward. 


3. Running shin splits 

Trying to get beach-fit quickly? Trying to run away those extra pounds? A sudden increase in running thresholds (especially if you’ve never run) is one of the biggest single causes of shin splints. This, together with wearing inappropriate footwear, a higher BMI and flat feet are among the top factors that can result in shin splints. Try switching to swimming or cycling instead and seek physiotherapy advice before hitting the pavement again to avoid this common summer injury.  


4. Plantar fasciitis

In warmer weather, we tend you to swap our more supportive shoes for flip-flops, pumps, and sandals. Whilst increasing the airflow helps us feel cooler, our feet have to work a lot harder to help us move. This can cause aching burning feet at the end of the day. The intrinsic foot muscles may have deconditioned over the long winter and therefore be subject to strain and fatigue. If you suffer from burning feet, try doing the following: 

Place a bottle of water in the freezer for an hour or so. Place it under your foot to act as an ice roller- trust me, it will absolutely hit the spot to relieve your burning feet! 


5. Cycling injuries 

Fair weather cyclists the world over can all relate to a “dead pinky” or lower back pain after getting into the saddle. Bike setup is crucial to your cycling comfort and can also contribute to the work of cycling. Your pre-bike fitness however will set you up to ensure you’re recruiting the correct muscles for your pedal power and avoid injury. Weak glutes are sometimes responsible for overworking the lumbar spine or hamstrings. A simple bridge exercise is useful for hip mobility and strength, particularly for cyclists as it replicates the action of the downward force of pedaling and isolates glut muscles.  


We hope that these few simple golden nuggets will help keep those summer injuries at bay and that you have a wonderful and long summer! 

5 injuries you didn’t think you could get from cycling

1. Runner’s knee

Yes, I said it! You can get runner’s knee from cycling. Contrary to popular belief, this painful problem is not confined to those who hit the pavements in their trainers alone. In fact, there’s a growing number of cyclists that land up on my treatment table that have been plagued with this pesky problem. The problem with cycling (cue “gasp” from our lycra-clad friends) is that the answer may not always be straight forward.

Read More

choosing a bra

Size Matters

It’s a month to Christmas. If you are one of those very organised people, chances are that you’ve started on your Christmas shopping list. You inspire me! I am a scrambler – yes one of those loons trekking down Oxford Street on Christmas Eve searching for at least one dodgy Christmas jumper and the mandatory pair of socks for an unsuspecting, and admittedly unlucky relative.

Read More

My back hurts

Back pain

Back Pain is one of the leading causes of sickness related absenteeism at work in the UK.

There are several sources from which back pain can arise. A recent study in the UK, showed that Physiotherapy is clinically effective and cost efffective in the management and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Read More