Updated: May 9
I've heard some theories that spinal twisting is something to avoid during pregnancy, especially during prenatal yoga.
As someone that hesitates to restrict movement unless there's a really good reason, I got curious about this advice and decided to take a deeper dive.
I first went to google and "searched twisting during pregnancy." I found a couple of popular sites stating that spinal twisting is so unsafe during pregnancy it is actually a risk factor for miscarriages!
I have since searched for studies or any evidence that might suggest this is true and am relieved to report that I have not found any evidence to support this claim.
Twisting motions during pregnancy may be something to consider when considering Diastasis Recti or low back pain.
We Are Often Too Mobile In Our Low Backs
When we are stiff in our upper backs, shoulders, or hips, our low backs will make up for mobility where it is lacking. This means that many of us are overly mobile in our low backs.
For this reason, avoiding excessive twisting such as revolved triangle pose, might be indicated for pregnant women.
But this also depends on whether or not you know you have diastasis recti and/or history of low back pain.
You could definitely make the argument that a practiced yogi can safely move into this position pregnant, while a newer yogi might need to hold off.
Overall, I am an advocate for moving during pregnancy and we need to rotate through our upper backs. I frequently recommend poses like seated twist or side angle pose during pregnancy, so long as they are twisting primarily from the upper back with a neutral pelvis and lower spine.
It's Not Just Twisting
Low backs often take the brunt of our pregnant bellies as our abs expand and (often) stop providing good abdominal and spinal support.
As a result, extreme poses that require spinal flexion or extension is also something to modify during pregnancy. This would include poses such as upward dog, which lengthens an already lengthened abdominal region and compresses an already compressed lumbar spine.
There Are Ways To Modify
One way to help make sure our twisting poses are targeting the upper back instead of reinforcing hyper-mobility in the lower back is to use our inner thighs to anchor our pelvis during a rotation.
This will help decrease our ability to twist though our low back and provide us with the benefits of practicing increasing mobility through the upper back.
Take this reach and roll exercise with a block squeezed between the legs for example:
Generally speaking, there are not a lot a lot of movements I would restrict pregnant women from, especially if they have been performing them regularly prior to pregnancy.
That said, I would move into low back extreme spinal flexion, extension, or rotation with caution, especially for moms that are just starting out in yoga.
If you're not sure how to move and participate in exercise during pregnancy, book your session today!