Exercises for Symphasis Pubis Disorder (SPD) Symphasis Pubis Disorder (SPD) or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a common condition that arises during pregnancy.
It is believed to be caused by increased joint mobility and the hormone relaxin, which literally relaxes your joints and ligaments, (especially in the hip and pelvic areas).
Pain is felt in your hips, lower back, glutes and inside the thighs. At times it can feel like your hips are going to completely separate from each other. (Yes! Ouch!) Getting out of the car or bed can be difficult, and you might feel like a 100-year-old woman when you first get up!
The severity of symptoms varies from mild discomfort to severely debilitating pain.
- Burning, shooting, grinding or stabbing,
- Mild or prolonged
- Usually relieved by rest
- Radiating to the back, abdomen, groin, perineum and legs
- Disappears commonly after giving birth (not in every case)
- Discomfort onto the front of the joint
- Clicking of the lower back, hip joints and saccroillial joints when changing position
- Difficulty in movements like ab- and adduction
- Locomotor difficulty: walking, ascending or descending stairs, rising from a chair, weight bearing activities, standing on one leg, turning in bed
- Depression, possibly due to the discomfort
When this is happening to the body, the last thing you are going to feel like doing is exercise!
However it is important to find a solution to ease the symptoms and to allow the body to still move and strengthen. Exercise is an important aspect, where aerobic, strengthening, pelvic floor and stabilisation exercises are combined. Other therapies such as accupunture, TENS, ice, external heat and massage are also done as a solution.
If you feel this could be you, first step is to be diagnosed by your GP. You will be referred to a Physio, who will stretch and massage you, and show you exercises to do at home. In the meantime, its recommended to avoid the following:
- Walking, especially long strides
- Breast stroke when swimming
- Lateral raises
- Heavy weight lifting or loading too much weight on your hips
There are ways to relieve this pain, and exercises that can be done. First of all, its best to avoid any lateral movements in your legs, keep your legs closed and don’t open them too wide! Strengthening and stretching the muscles of your glutes, lower back and quads will help, but you also need to be very careful and do this slowly without too much tension.
You can continue doing pelvic floor exercises such as kegels, pelvic tilt, hip bridge and cat stretch. If you are unsure how to do these you can see videos on our youtube channel – Fit Fab Mum.
The following exercises can help with pain and stability:
BRIDGE -Lying on back with bent knees, lift hips up, pushing through your heels and glutes and pelvic floor as you breathe out. Up for 2-3 seconds, and down for 2-3 seconds.
DONKEY KICK– kneeling on hands and knees, with a flexed foot, lift foot up towards ceiling, squeeze glutes and brace core to spine, and back down.
SIDE LYING LEG PRESS – lying on side, lift knee/hip up towards chest, then push out to straight leg with a flexed foot, squeezing glutes and pelvic floor muscles.
SIDE LYING LEG LIFT – lying on side, lift leg up and down. It is very important to not go up too high, as this can aggravate SPD, but with small movements, it can help.
Additionally sitting on a stability ball will help with pain and when you are doing any upper body exercises, as will sleeping with a pillow between your legs.
Make sure to stretch afterwards, however be mindful they are gentle stretches, not too much tension,and hold for about 20 seconds. Examples include : Butterfly , ball pelvic tilts and circles, childs pose, cat stretch, seated glute stretch.
Some positive news is that most women’s SPD disappears soon after birth, or within 3 months. Always take care Mumma, and don’t go back to regular exercise until your hips and back feel mobile and pain free.