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From the desk of Dr. Travis Arrington

How to Relieve Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy: Solutions

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Discovering how to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy can significantly improve the quality of life for expectant mothers. As pregnancy advances, numerous females feel discomfort in their upper back due to various factors such as weight increase, hormonal alterations and a changing center of gravity. This blog post will delve into the causes of this common issue and provide practical solutions for alleviating pain.

We will discuss the importance of practicing good posture and maintaining an active lifestyle through exercises like prenatal yoga. Furthermore, we’ll explore heat or cold therapy options that can help ease muscle tension in the upper back region.

By understanding these methods on how to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy, you’ll be better equipped to manage your discomfort while ensuring a healthier journey towards motherhood.

Table of Contents:

Understand the Causes of Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it can also come with some discomforts, such as upper back pain. To effectively relieve this pain, it’s essential to understand its common causes during pregnancy. Some factors that contribute to upper back pain include increased weight, hormonal changes, and posture adjustments.

Increased Weight

As your infant develops within you, the extra heft puts more strain on your back and muscles, potentially resulting in upper back pain during pregnancy if the weight is not evenly distributed. This extra weight often leads to upper back pain during pregnancy, especially if the added pounds are not distributed evenly across your body.

Hormonal Changes

Hormones play a significant role in preparing your body for childbirth by loosening ligaments and joints around the pelvis area. However, these hormones may also affect other areas of the body like the spine and cause instability or discomfort in the upper back region.

Posture Adjustments

As your belly expands throughout pregnancy, there is a natural tendency for expecting mothers to adjust their posture unconsciously - either by leaning backward or slouching forward - leading to strain on their necks and shoulders over time.

Key Takeaway:

Pregnancy can cause upper back pain due to increased weight, hormonal changes, and posture adjustments. To alleviate this pain, practicing good posture, exercising regularly with prenatal yoga or Pilates and regular chiropractic adjustments are very helpful. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen during pregnancy.

Practice Good Posture

Maintaining good posture during pregnancy is essential to reducing strain on your upper back muscles and alleviating pain. As your body changes, it’s crucial to be mindful of how you sit, stand, and sleep in order to support a healthy spine. In this section, we will discuss various ways you can practice good posture throughout your pregnancy.

Sitting Posture

When seated for long periods, opt for a chair with suitable lumbar support or place a cushion at the curve of your lower back. Keep both feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs as this can lead to poor circulation and additional strain on the spine. Your knees should be at or below hip level while seated, so adjust your chair height accordingly. It’s also important to take breaks from sitting every 60 minutes by standing up and stretching to improve blood flow.

Standing Posture

  • Bear weight evenly: When standing for long periods of time, ensure that you distribute weight evenly between both feet rather than leaning more heavily onto one side.
  • Pelvic tilt: Perform gentle pelvic tilts by tucking in your buttocks slightly under while pulling up through the abdomen; this helps maintain proper alignment in the lower back region.
  • Avoid high heels: Wearing high-heeled shoes during pregnancy increases pressure on the lower back; opt for supportive flats instead. Optimally find a pair of zero drop shoes with a wide toe box like Altra, Xero or Vivo shoes.
  • Taking breaks: If possible, take short breaks from standing by sitting down or elevating one foot at a time using a small stool.

Sleeping Posture

As your pregnancy progresses, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging. However, there are ways to support proper spinal alignment while you sleep:

  • Side-sleeping: Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees; this helps maintain the natural curve of the spine and reduces pressure on the hips and lower back. The left side is recommended, as it improves blood flow to both mother and baby as well as digestion.
  • Pillow support: Use additional pillows for extra support under your abdomen or behind your back if needed.
  • Mattress firmness: A medium-firm mattress provides adequate support for pregnant women; consider using a mattress topper if necessary.

Daily Activities & Ergonomics

In addition to practicing good posture during sitting, standing, and sleeping, it’s essential to apply ergonomic principles when performing daily activities such as lifting objects or working at a computer. Here are some tips for maintaining proper posture throughout various tasks:

  • Lifting Objects: Bend at the knees instead of bending over from the waist when picking up items off the floor. Keep objects close to your body while carrying them in order to minimize strain on the back muscles.
  • Computer Workstation: Ensure your computer monitor is at eye level and use a chair with proper lumbar support. Place your keyboard and mouse within easy reach to avoid overextending your arms.

By practicing good posture throughout pregnancy, you can help alleviate upper back pain and maintain overall spinal health. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe discomfort.

Practicing good posture is an important step in relieving upper back pain during pregnancy. Regularly engaging in physical activity can help sustain and boost posture, as well as provide extra advantages for both mom and baby’s health.

Key Takeaway:

Maintaining good posture during pregnancy is crucial to reducing strain on the upper back muscles and alleviating pain. This can be achieved by practicing good sitting, standing, and sleeping postures, as well as applying ergonomic principles when performing daily activities such as lifting objects or working at a computer. Remember to consult with your Chiropractor if you experience persistent or severe discomfort.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise, particularly low-impact activities, is key to maintaining good health and alleviating upper back pain during pregnancy. Strengthening core muscles and bettering posture can help to reduce the tension on your upper back, thus lessening any ache.

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises, such as walking or swimming, are ideal for pregnant women because they help improve cardiovascular fitness while being gentle on joints and ligaments. Aim to get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-level aerobic exercise on the majority of days, but always talk with your chiropractor before beginning any new physical activity program while pregnant.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is another excellent option that focuses on stretching, breathing techniques, and relaxation methods specifically designed for expectant mothers. The practice not only helps relieve stress but also strengthens the muscles responsible for supporting good posture - a key factor in reducing upper back pain during pregnancy. We offer Free Community Yoga every Thursday at 6:30pm and welcome all abilities including pregnant moms!

Tips for Practicing Prenatal Yoga:

  • Choose a qualified prenatal yoga instructor who understands the unique needs of pregnant women.
  • Avoid poses that put pressure on your abdomen or require lying flat on your back after the first trimester.
  • Use props like bolsters or blocks to modify poses if needed to ensure comfort throughout each session.
  • Always listen to your body - stop immediately if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Core Strengthening Exercises

Building a strong core is crucial for maintaining good posture and reducing upper back pain during pregnancy. Simple exercises like pelvic tilts, seated ball circles, and modified planks can help strengthen your abdominal muscles without putting too much strain on your body.

Tips for Core Strengthening During Pregnancy:

  • Avoid traditional crunches or sit-ups as they may put excessive pressure on the abdominal muscles and cause diastasis recti - a separation of the abdominal wall.
  • Focus on engaging your deep core muscles by gently drawing in your belly button towards your spine while exhaling during each exercise.
  • If you’re unsure about proper form or technique, consult with a prenatal fitness specialist to ensure safety and effectiveness in your workouts.


Pilates, another low-impact exercise option, focuses on strengthening the entire body while emphasizing proper alignment and breathing techniques. Many Pilates studios offer prenatal classes that are specifically designed to accommodate pregnant women’s changing bodies. These classes provide an excellent opportunity to build strength in key areas such as the abdominals, lower back, hips, pelvis floor muscles - all essential components for alleviating upper back pain during pregnancy.

Incorporating regular low-impact exercises into your daily routine will not only help relieve upper back pain but also contribute positively to both yours’ and baby’s overall health throughout pregnancy. Always remember to listen to your body when exercising; if something doesn’t feel right or causes discomfort - stop immediately. And most importantly: always consult with your chiropractor before starting any new exercise program during pregnancy.

Engaging in frequent physical activity is a crucial component of sustaining well-being while pregnant, and can help to alleviate upper back pain. Moving on, using heat or cold therapy is another effective way to relieve discomfort in the upper back area.

Key Takeaway:

Regular low-impact exercise is crucial for relieving upper back pain during pregnancy. Aerobic exercises, prenatal yoga, core strengthening exercises, and Pilates are all excellent options that can help strengthen muscles and improve posture while being gentle on the body. It’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy and always listen to your body to avoid discomfort or pain.

Use Heat or Cold Therapy

Both methods have their own benefits and are effective in reducing discomfort, inflammation, and muscle tension. It is imperative to utilize these treatments securely and accurately in order to avoid any unfavorable impacts on you or your infant.

Benefits of Heat Therapy

Heat therapy, also known as thermo-therapy, involves applying warmth to the affected area using a heating pad, warm towel, hot water bottle, or heated gel pack. The heat helps increase blood flow to the muscles in your upper back while promoting relaxation and reducing stiffness. Some benefits of heat therapy include:

  • Easing muscle spasms
  • Increasing flexibility by relaxing tight muscles
  • Promoting healing through improved circulation
  • Providing comfort and relaxation for stress relief

Benefits of Cold Therapy

Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy or ice treatment, involves applying cold packs (such as ice wrapped in a cloth) directly onto the painful area for short periods (15-20 minutes). This method works by constricting blood vessels which reduces inflammation and numbs the surrounding nerves temporarily relieving pain caused by swelling.

  • Numbing acute pain effectively without medication
  • Reducing inflammation that contributes to discomfort
  • Decreasing muscle spasms related to injury or strain
  • Speeding up recovery time after exercise sessions when used appropriately

How To Safely Apply Heat Or Cold Therapies

Before applying heat or cold therapy, it is crucial to follow these safety guidelines:

  1. Always use a barrier between the heating or cooling source and your skin. This can be a thin towel, cloth, or specialized cover designed for hot/cold packs.
  2. Avoid applying heat directly on swollen areas as this may worsen inflammation.
  3. Do not apply cold therapy if you have poor circulation or numbness in the area being treated.

When To Use Heat Or Cold Therapy During Pregnancy

In general, both heat and cold therapies are safe during pregnancy when used appropriately. However, there are some specific situations where one method might be more suitable than the other:

  • Heat therapy: Ideal for chronic pain and muscle stiffness caused by postural changes during pregnancy. It helps relax tight muscles while providing comfort through warmth.
  • Cold therapy: Best suited for acute pain due to injuries such as strains, sprains, or sudden onset of upper back discomfort resulting from overexertion. The numbing effect provides immediate relief without medication which is especially helpful during pregnancy when certain medications should be avoided.

Alternating Between Heat And Cold Therapy

Sometimes alternating between heat and cold therapies can provide optimal relief from upper back pain during pregnancy. Start with applying ice (cold) first followed by moist heat after about an hour has passed since removing the ice pack. This process allows you to benefit from both methods’ advantages: reducing inflammation with ice treatment while promoting relaxation and blood flow using moist heat application afterwards. Always seek advice from your chiropractor before commencing any new treatment routine during gestation to guarantee it is secure for both the mother and infant.

Key Takeaway:

Heat therapy helps increase blood flow to the muscles in your upper back while promoting relaxation and reducing stiffness, whereas cold therapy reduces inflammation and numbs the surrounding nerves temporarily relieving pain caused by swelling. It is crucial to follow safety guidelines before applying either method and consult with your chiropractor beforehand.

What Helps with Upper Back Pain While Pregnant?

To relieve upper back pain during pregnancy, it is important to maintain good posture, exercise regularly, and use heat or cold therapy. Prenatal yoga and stretching can also help alleviate discomfort. It is always recommended to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Why Does My Upper Back Hurt Between My Shoulder Blades While Pregnant?

Upper back pain between the shoulder blades during pregnancy is often due to hormonal changes, weight gain, and postural adjustments as your body accommodates the growing baby. These factors can cause muscle strain and tension in the area.

How Do You Stretch Your Upper Back When Pregnant?

To stretch your upper back during pregnancy, try seated cat-cow stretches or a gentle seated twist. Always perform stretches slowly and within a comfortable range of motion to avoid injury. For more guidance on safe prenatal exercises, consult a qualified professional.

Why Does My Upper Back and Ribs Hurt During Pregnancy?

Pain in the upper back and ribs may be caused by the expanding ribcage due to increased hormone levels that soften ligaments around joints. This allows room for baby growth but may lead to discomfort. Additionally, poor posture or muscular imbalances could contribute to this type of pain.

What Is the Best Way to Relieve Upper Back Pain?

The most effective approach for relieving persistent upper back pain includes maintaining proper posture throughout daily activities, engaging in regular physical activity such as walking or swimming, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, using heat/cold therapies where appropriate and getting regular chiropractic adjustments to ensure proper alignment.


In the end, pain in the upper back during pregnancy is an occurrence that’s often seen and may be due to a range of causes such as hormonal changes or additional weight. However, there are several ways to relieve this discomfort including practicing good posture, exercising regularly, and using heat or cold therapy. By implementing these methods into your daily routine, you can alleviate the pain and enjoy a more comfortable pregnancy.

If you’re looking for additional support during your pregnancy journey, come see us at White Bison Well-Being. Our team of experts offer personalized wellness plans to help you feel your best throughout every stage of motherhood.

Click here to learn more about how we can assist with relieving upper back pain during your pregnancy!