Belly Dance for Back Pain Relief During Pregnancy

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. 

Dance of the Womb: A Gentle Guide to Belly Dance for Pregnancy & Birth

Find out more about the benefits of belly dance during pregnancy and birth.
Watch the video trailer and experience Maha's teaching in an excerpt from the video.
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