5 Key Pregnancy Alignment Reminders
So what the heck are we supposed to do when everything we are used to dealing with in our bodies changes? When our bodies loosen up with relaxin, the pelvis directly supports 30%-50% more weight as it tilts back and separates, and you’re accumulating mass at lightning speed? Experiment, I guess…!
At first I let it all go, thinking that my body would know what to do – how wrong I was. An old back injury resurfaced, and a new sharp pain in my groin would literally incapacitate me if I sat too long or walked too far. Both these issues led to 5 Active Release Technique sessions (highly recommended) and 6 weeks of experimenting with how to line myself back up so that I could stay active and healthy. I’m at 31 weeks now I have no pelvic pain. I am even back to running (albeit short slow intervals). I’m not going to say it’s easy to run with a sandbag strapped to your belly, but it’s possible to do it without pain!
As a trained professional dancer, and dance teacher for 10 years I thought I knew what I was doing with my posture. Here’s what pregnancy has (re)taught me. It has helped me immensely, I hope it can help you too. Make sure to try this standing sideways in a mirror so you can see the adjustments you are making. Each adjustment builds on the previous, so don’t lose your focus – but if you find there is too much take one at a time.
1. Keep your tailbone underneath you.
This does NOT mean tucking your pelvis in by squeezing your butt muscles. Think more along the lines of kegels. Stand sideways in a mirror and engage your pelvic floor while you think about moving the tailbone underneath you. You should see a subtle change and your butt should still be relaxed. Oh yeah, and breathe!!
2. Lift your lower abdominal muscles.
Yes, these still exist, and chances are when you moved your tailbone with your pelvic floor you also already engaged your lower core. Still standing sideways in the mirror, actively engage and release your lower abdominals to see how it affects your belly and your pelvis.
3. Lengthen your spine.
There are a few ways to approach this. Dance teachers will tell you to pretend you have a string coming out the top of your head. I like to imagine being lifted up by the “palatine uvula” or the dangly bit at the back of your throat (betcha didn’t know that’s what it was called!). Either way you should gain a couple inches. This will also relax your chin into a more natural position.
4. Careful not to over-arch your upper spine or hunch your shoulders.
There is a delicate balance between arching and hunching, the key is to find the middle. Your ribcage should be on top of the curve in your spine, not in front or behind it. Relax your shoulders. Try engaging your upper abs too, see how it feels to add support for that growing baby belly.
5. When walking and running, lean from the ankles, despite the weight in front.
If you are keeping the core aligned (and you’re breathing) try walking by leaning from your ankles and letting gravity take you forward. There are a few ideas you can use here, my favorite is it feels like you are being pulled forward with a bungee cord tied between your legs at your tailbone. Another is like being pushed from the lower sacrum (the triangular area above your tailbone). You don’t want to bend at the waist though, so work hard to maintain the alignment you have created with the first four steps.
If you can sit on a ball during the day at work or watching TV at home, you can practice these posture tips with ease throughout the day too. I heart my exercise ball!! Good luck!