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What to do if you’re experiencing thoracic pain during pregnancy

Have you started experiencing upper back pain since being pregnant? Or has breastfeeding left you hunched over and achey? Physio Madison gives us her top tips on how to help back pain during pregnancy, as well as postnatally.

Mar 19th • 

Have you started experiencing upper back pain since being pregnant? Or has commencing breastfeeding left you hunched over and achey?

Your body undergoes lots of hormonal and ligamentous changes throughout pregnancy, in combination with many positional and activity changes throughout your daily life as you accommodate your growing baby. Whilst this kind of back pain can often resolve postnatally, a lot of the time we see women with ongoing stiffness as they commence breastfeeding.

So what can you do if you’re experiencing thoracic pain?

1. Keep moving!

Thoracic pain often results from thoracic stiffness so the best thing you can do is keep moving. Backs don’t like being still. This makes them more stiff. SO avoid prolonged positioning and break up your day with regular short walks and full body movement.

2. Schedule in some regular, dedicated exercise time.

This goes above general movement throughout the day and should involve a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training. Exercise during pregnancy has been proven to be good for mum, good for bub and good for your mental health.

3. Foam roll

It’s worthwhile having a foam roller at home to try various exercises to improve your thoracic movement. My favourites include thread the needle (see below) and gentle extension over the roller. The roller is a great way to increase thoracic extension and rotation as well as relieve muscle tightness and spasm throughout your back and shoulders.

4. When it comes time for breastfeeding, positioning is really important

Make sure you set yourself up well from the outset – designate a breastfeeding chair that is upright with good back support. A pillow under bub and a rolled up towel behind your lower back can keep you from hunching forward and relieve load on your upper back.

Give these THREE EXERCISES a go to help relieve your upper back pain. Start with 3 x 5 repetitions of each, with slow controlled movement!

Thoracic extension over the foam roller 

Book openers

Thread the needle


Madison is a Physiotherapist passionate about helping mums understand their bodies, move efficiently and return to running and exercise safely. You can find her at iMove Physio.

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