Pre-pregnancy exercise reduces pelvic girdle pain
by Bruce Sylvester: Exercise prior to pregnancy appears to reduce pelvic girdle pain caused by joint and ligament changes during pregnancy, researchers reported online on October 7, 2015 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a British Medical Journal publication.
In this study, the researchers evaluated data on about 39,000 women who expected their first child between 2000 and 2009. The subjects participated in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which followed a cross section of Norwegian women, recruited between 1999 and 2008, and their children.
During week 17 of pregnancy, the subjects were asked about the type and frequency of their exercise in the three months prior to becoming pregnant.
In their 30th week of pregnancy, they were asked about frequency and intensity of pelvic girdle pain.
Average age was 38 years (ranging from 14 to 46).
The investigators rated “frequency of exercise” from zero (never) up to 3 (at least three times a week), and included 13 different types of exercise: brisk walking, jogging or orienteering, cycling, training in fitness centers, swimming, low impact, high impact, or prenatal aerobics, dancing, cross country skiing, ball games, and horseback riding.
They reported that 56.5% of the subjects said they had exercised at least three times a week in the three months before their pregnancy. And 7% said they had not exercised during this period.
Notably, 90% of the women who had exercised before pregnancy continued at week 17.
The investigators reported that 10.4% of all subjects reported pelvic girdle pain by the 30th week of pregnancy. The incidence increased to 12.5% among the women did not exercise prior to the pregnancy.
After adjusting for age, weight (BMI), educational attainment, smoking and a previous history of back pain, the researchers found that high impact exercise three to five times a week associated with a 14% lower risk of pelvic girdle pain by week 30 of pregnancy.
They noted that no added benefit was associated with exercise frequency of more than five times a week.
“Acknowledging the limitations of our study, these results emphasize the importance of promoting regular exercise among women of childbearing age,” the investigators concluded.