Why Do Some Women Have Severe Neck Pain During Pregnancy?

The body of a pregnant woman goes through a world of change in  9 months. From a growing uterus and raging hormones to the change in the center of gravity, their normal functioning is transformed.  These rapid changes, with the additional weight gain of the baby, take a huge toll on the woman’s body and are quite difficult on her. With added mood swings, and the pressure to be healthy and keep the baby safe, pregnancy is quite a challenging time for a woman. 

The natural shape of the spine is designed in a way that allows for maximum elasticity and flexibility. This is why it is naturally curved- something that changes due to pregnancy. The additional weight of the baby causes stress on the fluids and tissues surrounding the spine that changes its curvature causing muscles to get tensed up in the back. This is why lower back pain, neck pain are so common with pregnancies as the muscles and nerves in the spine are compromised. 

Neck pain in the third trimester is all the more common because the grown belly has added a lot of weight and stress to the spine, causing muscles and nerves to be compromised, which ultimately causes back and neck pain. Tasks that were easily performed by a woman- bending, lifting, sitting up straight- become increasingly difficult as the pregnancy nears an end. They are also at risk of injuring their back because of these changes.

Exercises for Neck Pain During Pregnancy

Neck Pain exercises are a great, natural way to reduce neck pain without the added requirement of pain-med reliance. Pregnancy is such a stage where some pain medications are not appropriate and safe for the baby, and heavy exercises are not recommended late into the third trimester. However, it is important to keep active and maintain a good diet as these are great ways in which severe neck pain during pregnancy can be prevented. 

Here are some exercises that are easy to perform and effective, that will help ease painful neck pain during pregnancy

  • Standing Chin Tucks – This exercise targets the muscles in the neck that help restore full range of motion and relieve the stiffness in the neck joints. You can either sit or stand while performing this exercise. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and make sure your upper back is firmly against the wall. Then, place your hand on your chin pull your head straight back, feeling a good stretch at the base of your neck. Make sure while performing this exercise, your shoulders are pulled back and relaxed, your posture is straight and that you are breathing throughout the exercise. Repeat 10 times. 
  • Shoulder Blade Raise – This is a great exercise that offsets the effects of a bad posture during pregnancy. What usually happens with bad posture is that makes the chest muscles tight, causing the muscles in the upper back and neck too, to become constricted. Practice this exercise to help release that tension. Begin by standing next to a wall, and keep the leg closest to the wall bent. Now while keeping your core tight, make sure your hips face the front foot and then try to reach the arm that is closest to the wall behind you, and make sure the arm aligns with the shoulder. Also ensure that the shoulder blade draws down and back throughout the exercise. Rotate the whole upper body away from the wall and stop when you feel a good stretch across the chest. Hold the position for 20 seconds and then repeat. Make sure you are breathing at all times. 

Also Read: Questionnaire to Decide Whether You Need Physiotherapy For Your Neck Pain?

  • Shoulder Blade Up And Down –  This is a great exercise to help relieve tension in some of the muscles near the neck. As the name suggests this motion is exactly like that- shoulder blades going up and down. It helps to round up the shoulders to relieve severe neck pain during pregnancy.  Stand against a floor or a wall, about 5-6 inches away from it. Then, while keeping your lower back flat and with a slight bend in your knees try to draw your shoulders away from the ears while keeping the chin slightly tucked. As you move your shoulder, make sure the back is squeezed and keep your arms straight over your head. Make sure that your hands and arms are in contact with the wall at all times. Ensure that all repetitions are slow and controlled. 
  • Resistance Band Slides – You will need a resistance band for this. Face the wall and keep your feet together. Then loop around a resistance band around your lower arms, while bringing the arms straight up at a 90-degree angle. Place your arms on the wall as if you are in a plank position. Make sure to keep the core engaged, keep the forearms pressed and slowly slide the arms up the wall. Slightly press against the resistance band as you do. Then slowly lower your arms back to a 90-degree angle and then repeat.
  • Spine Mobility Exercise – If you have performed a downward dog yoga pose before, this exercise will be easy for you. Start by placing your hands shoulder-width apart on a wall so that they are at least hip height. Walk your feet back as you try to straighten your arms on the wall. Once your heels and the body are in an L shape, keep your arms firmly placed against the wall while lowering your head between your upper arms. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then repeat. 

Physiotherapy for neck pain during pregnancy is also a great way to help with your neck pain. Using massage therapies is also a safe and reliable method to help pregnant women deal with their neck pain without surgical intervention and pain medications. 

Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform that uses 3D imaging and artificial intelligence to accurately capture incorrect movements and postures and help provide remedial measures to correct the same. On the site, you will find a wealth of exercises for any type of muscle and body pain that you can perform in your day-to-day life curated by expert physiotherapists.
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