Look at your spine and you’ll see that all the organs heart, lungs, liver, intestines, kidneys and the rest – are in front of it In terms of architecture, that’s wrong. If you look at a tree, the trunk forms the central axis and the branches radiate outwards, so the weight is distributed more or less evenly around it.
When we walked on all fours, our spine was perfectly structured. The organs hung down like washing on a line. Standing erect created problems: the back muscles have to act like pulleys to keep the spine upright, as well as stretching the spine upwards while we are erect.
Try this simple experiment: stand erect and dig your thumbs into the lumbar (back) muscles that run down the entire spine, either side. Now bend forward: you will feel them becoming taut. Return to the erect position and feel the muscles soften again because they are relaxed. Now stretch your spine upward: you will see the curves of the spine straightening and your Posture improving.
So we know that the back muscles tighten when you bend forward, even slightly. You bend forward when you are carrying a weight in front, such as a baby in your womb, or if you have certain sorts of groin injury, which can be caused by cycling, sit-ups, squash, golf or kick-boxing, or carrying something heavy. You can tell if you have a groin injury by pressing the tendons at the end of the abdominal muscles and seeing if you have a pain on either side. It may only hurt when you press the spot, but the pain is always there and it sends a message to the brain, causing you to bend forward or sideways to avoid triggering it. Result the back muscles tighten.
Walking with a changed Posture is the major cause of lower backache, or lumbago. The muscles in your back and buttocks, as well as the hamstring muscles behind your knees, tighten as the body tries to prevent the tilt. Long-term, this can cause wearing-down of the discs.
As the baby grows during pregnancy, the weight in front increases and the ligaments above the pubic bone get more stretched. With backache at such an early stage, your problem may get worse if it’s not treated now. It’s very important to keep an eye on what you eat and do the right type of exercises, which will also help later. Towards the end of pregnancy the pituitary gland produces hormones that soften and loosen the pubic joint in the front and the sacroiliac joint in the lower back. You also lose calcium, so the effect is like having the pain of osteoporosis in those joints. Nature wants it this way, so there is no point in taking painkillers or calcium supplements. Gentle passage to the lower back is the best way to soothe the backache.
Here are my suggestions:
- Make sure you are not constipated, because it causes calcium deficiency; drink a lot of water, at least l.5 litres of still, pure water daily between meals, and eat Prunes, figs and spinach.
- Avoid citrus fruits; the acid exacerbates inflammation, making aches and pains worse.
- Ask your husband to massage the long muscles on either side of the spine with Dr Ali’s Back Massage Oil, and the gluteal (buttock) muscles and the hamstrings, while you lie on your side. My book Therapeutic Yoga, co-written with Jiwan Brar, explains this technique.
- Locate the tender spot just above the pubic bone, to the left or right – don’t press any higher than that because of your pregnancy. Massage gently.
- Do specific back exercises for pregnancy. These are detailed in my book The Ultimate Back Book. The one I find most useful is the semi-bridge yoga posture.
- Firmly rub the front of the shoulders using Dr Ali’s Joint Oil until they are really warm. Also, stand facing a wall, place your hand on it and do push-ups by moving the chest close to it then pushing your body away. Do this ten times, twice daily, to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the shoulders. Yoga is very helpful, too.