Belly dance relieves back pain during pregnancy for a number
of reasons. Back strength and health relies not only on the muscles of the
back, but also on the abdominal muscles, gluteus and hip muscles. It even relies on the pelvic floor, which
helps stabilize your spine. These “core
muscles” we hear so much about are absolutely essential in maintaining a
good-feeling back, hips and legs (read more about Sciatica and belly dance
here). The movements of belly dance put
these core muscles through a more full range of repeated motion than
traditional forms of exercise, and they do it in a gentle, fluid, low-impact
manner. The result is alleviation of
lower back pain during the pregnancy, easier labor because the birthing muscles
are prepared, and a quicker recovery after birth (especially with the continued
practice of gentle belly dance!).
Our bodies are designed to be active. Our sedentary lifestyles don’t benefit the
spine, which needs movement to help distribute nutrients into the disc space
and soft tissues of the back, keeping all elements – discs, muscles, ligaments
and joints – healthy and feeling good. During
(and prior to) pregnancy, chronic bad posture and sitting or lying down for
more hours of the day than being up and active, coupled with the flood of the
hormone relaxin (necessary for loosening the pubic symphysis and cervix,
allowing your baby to pass with relative ease through the birth canal) are a
powerful mix of elements leading directly to back pain. Ouch!
Just when you want to be enjoying those first fluttering kicks and jabs
from inside, up comes this unwanted distraction.
Here is where Bellydancebirth® comes in. With relaxin loosening every joint in your
body, it is essential that any exercise you undertake be gentle and that you
maintain an awareness of how your body is feeling as you move. Because all of the motions of
Bellydancebirth® are done with slightly bent knees, there is no pressure on the
lower back. And because one of the
fundamental elements of Dance of the Womb
is guided awareness of your breath, body, and connection to baby, muscles are
kept well oxygenated and anything that doesn’t feel right can be picked up on
right away. The fluid movements take
your hips and spine through a full range of motion, strengthening the core
muscles and easing tension.
Along with strengthened core muscles comes improved
posture. When the muscles that keep us
upright are strong, it’s easier to maintain a healthy stance. In addition to a stronger core, practicing
Bellydancebirth® helps foster an appreciation of your body and what it is
accomplishing. Becoming more fluid and
graceful in your motions leads to an overall sense of well-being. This both helps posture and floods the body
with the endorphins that allow us to cope with any pain that may still linger
during pregnancy and the intensity of birthing.
When we experience back pain, our first response may be to take it easy. While that can be beneficial for a couple days when there is some trauma associated with the pain, in the long-run, it’s actually completely counter-productive. Active forms of exercise focusing on core strength and back stretching are necessary to help alleviate the pain and rehabilitate the spine. (Note: Don’t forget to always check with a physician before beginning exercise, particularly if you’re experiencing acute pain!)
Enjoy your journey.