Dealing with Round Ligament Pain and 7 Exercises that will Help!

For some women, the second half of pregnancy can be really tough on the body. If you are experiencing round ligament pain it makes everything worse. Round ligament pain produces intense pain that is very noticeable. Women who experience it typically will have sharp, stabbing pain on one or both sides of the abdominals. It is often experienced more during transitional activities: sitting to standing or rolling over in bed. Coughing or laughing can also cause pain due to the quick stretch on the ligament. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help relieve the pain. My two major recommendations are strengthening the muscles you need for proper posture and avoiding the activities that trigger your round ligament pain. I'm going to share simple steps to help you take the tension off the ligament and avoid the pain. 

What is the round ligament?

The round ligament supports the uterus and stretches during pregnancy. We have two round ligaments, one on either side of the uterus. To give you a better idea, let me explain the anatomy. Each one originates on the lateral side of the uterine horns and exits the pelvis at the deep inguinal ring where it passes through the inguinal canal to the labia majora. The round ligaments job is to support the uterus. This ligament has an extra load as your baby increases in size during the later stages of pregnancy. 

  Round Ligament

Round Ligament

What to do:

  • Protective Mode: We want to avoid rapid stretch of the ligament. The name of the game here is AVOIDANCE. If you know you are going to cough or sneeze, bend your knees toward your chest to take the tension off the round ligament. This will make it far less painful. Also, slow down transitional movements and contract your transverse abdominals during movements. The best cue to engage your transverse abdominals is to tuck your tailbone up and in towards your belt line. This is NOT simply sucking your stomach in. You want to pretend you are putting on a tight pair of high waisted jeans. 

    • Reminder: slow transition movements to avoid a quick stretch on the ligament. While moving, focus on contracting the transverse abdominals (sit to stand). 

    • Self Massage: See the video below on how to do this! Briefly: Working from the outside of our hip bone towards the pubic bone (right above the clitoris) can be helpful to create movement in that area. 

    • Walking: Get moving! Walking is one of the best things you can do for round ligament pain. Deep breathe through your diaphragm as you walk. This helps to loosen up some of the tension on the abdominal cavity and the tissues including the round ligament. The body and tissues LOVE movement to keep them from sticking to one another. 

    • Practice good body mechanics. More tension is created on the round ligament when you have poor posture. Check in with your posture often! Keep your back straight and shoulders back. Avoid movements that make the ligament pain worse, such as reaching or stretching too far. Part of practicing good body mechanics is also doing the right exercises to make them possible. Have you ever noticed that you just cannot seem to stay upright in a good position? You may continue correcting your posture, only to find yourself back in the bad posture you just corrected minutes later. This is because you have to have the muscle strength that will keep you in these good postures. This can be really hard to achieve during pregnancy because we have to keep fighting gravity and losing muscle mass and strength. This is why proper strength exercises are especially important if you are experiencing round ligament pain. 
    • Exercises from the guide that are helpful: half kneeling hip flexor stretch, pelvic clocks in quadruped, cat/cow, quadruped rocking, bird dog, RDLs, pull aparts. 

Products that will help: 

Offering that ligament a bit of assistance can be very helpful to support your bump and take tension off the ligament. 

Round Ligament.jpg

 

Caution

Although round ligament pain is a common and harmless pregnancy condition, abdominal pain can be a sign of a serious problem, such as preterm labor, severe preeclampsia, placental abruption, or a medical problem unrelated to pregnancy like appendicitis.

Typically round ligament pain gets better when your knees are bent toward your chest and is worse with transitional movements. These other issues are not made better or worse with changes in position. Contact your physician if you experience that type of pain. 

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