Lumbar Support Can Be Harmful To Your Health!
Pregnancy and Postpartum: The Need for Sacral and Lower Thoracic Support - Driving, Sitting, Breastfeeding
by Dennis Zacharkow, PT
Why Sacral Support?
- The sacrum is the most frequent location of pain during pregnancy (Kristiansson et al., 1996).
- Posterior pelvic pain is four times more common than low back pain (pain above the sacrum) during pregnancy (Ostgaard et al., 1994).
- The more pregnancies a woman has resulting in live births, the more likely she is to have a subsequent lumbar disc herniation (Kelsey et al., 1975). (See the article Driving with Sacral Support: The Key to Preventing a Herniated Lumbar Disc.)
Why Lower Thoracic Support?
- Although sacral pain is the most common pain during pregnancy, thoracic pain also occurs -- it is almost as common as lumbar pain (Kristiansson et al., 1996).
- The hypertrophied breasts during pregnancy increase the forward bending movement on the thoracic spine via the rib cage (Chesley, 1944).
- Bullock et al. (1987) were the first to report an increase in thoracic kyphosis throughout pregnancy. This is an important issue to address, as a round back posture is already epidemic among non-pregnant women.
Up to 51 percent of healthy, non-pregnant women from ages 20 to 64 are kyphotic in their normal posture (Cutler et al., 1993). In addition, there is a significant decrease in thoracic extension mobility between the female age groups of 22-29 years of age and 30-39 years of age (O'Gorman and Jull, 1987).
The increased thoracic kyphosis during pregnancy can continue postpartum with the added spinal stress from breastfeeding. Holding the baby during breastfeeding can result in the hinging forward and downward of the rib cage, due to flexion of the lower thoracic spine.
Kyphotic postural habits during and after pregnancy should be addressed primarily with the addition of lower thoracic support when driving, sitting, and breastfeeding (Zacharkow, 1998, 2001).
- Bullock, J.E., Jull, G.A., and Bullock, M.I.: The relationship of low back pain to postural changes during pregnancy. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 33:10-17, 1987.
- Chesley, L.: Weight changes and water balance in normal and toxic pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 48: 565-593, 1944.
- Cutler, W.B., Friedmann, E., and Geneovese-Stone, E.: Prevalence of kyphosis in a healthy sample of pre- and postmenopausal women. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 72: 219-225, 1993.
- Kelsey, J.L., Greenberg, R.A., Hardy, R.J., and Johnson, M.F.: Pregnancy and the syndrome of herniated lumbar intervertebral disc; an epidemiological study. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 48: 361-368, 1975.
- Kristiansson, P., Svardsudd, K., and von Schoultz, B.: Back pain during pregnancy. Spine, 21: 702-709, 1996.
- O'Gorman, H., and Jull, G.: Thoracic kyphosis and mobility: the effect of age. Physiotherapy Practice, 3: 154-162, 1987.
- Ostgaard, H.C., Zetherstrom, G., Roos-Hansson, E., and Svanberg, B.: Reduction of back and posterior pelvic pain in pregnancy. Spine, 19: 894-900, 1994.
- Zacharkow, D.: ZACKBACK Sitting. Rochester, ZACKBACK International, 1998.
- Zacharkow, D.: Women's driving posture - an overlooked health issue. Worldwide Spine and Industrial Rehabilitation, 1(2): 5-10, Fall, 2001.
site contents are Copyright 2002-2017
The YogaBack Company
P.O Box 9113, Rochester,