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3 Best Exercises for Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction or SPD)

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP), symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) pain, “lightning crotch” — whatever you call it, pelvic pain during pregnancy is frustrating. Here you’ll find 3 of the best exercises for relieving pelvic pain – designed to activate, stretch AND strip the adductor muscles. You can do these daily for pain relief.

We recently shared two pregnancy workouts focused on relieving sciatic nerve pain and low back pain during pregnancy, and my inbox was flooded with requests for another common pregnancy ailment: pelvic pain.

Stretching ligaments, changing hormone levels, shifting organs to make room for a growing uterus – these are all factors that contribute to abdominal and pelvic instability during pregnancy.

In response to that instability, the adductor muscles (or the muscles along your inner thighs that work to pull your legs in towards your body’s midline) can become overworked and tight. These adductors are directly attached to the bony portion of the pelvis that makes up the pubic symphysis attachment.

Today’s exercises serve three purposes:

  1. ACTIVATE the adductors
  2. STRETCH the adductors
  3. STRIP the adductors

This combination strengthens the adductors before lengthening them, pulling them away from the pubic symphysis disc to take some of that pressure off the pubic symphysis.

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pregnant woman sitting on an exercise ball lengthening adductor muscles to reduce pelvic pain during pregnancy

Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy FAQs

What Causes Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the body produces the hormone relaxin which causes ligaments around your pelvis to loosen. This allows your pelvis to widen during delivery, but can cause pelvic pain during pregnancy, known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

Symphysis pubis dysfunction describes the pain and discomfort that occurs when the joint connecting the left and right pelvic bones (pubic symphysis) allows for more movement than usual.

What Are The Symptoms of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

SPD pain is felt over the pubic bone at the front in the center, roughly level with your hips. This pain is sometimes accompanied by a grinding or clicking sensation in the pubic area or lower back pain. Pain often worsens when legs are separated (going up stairs, walking, getting out of bed).

How Can I Avoid Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction During Pregnancy?

In addition to adding the exercises in today’s video to your routine, think of keeping both feet together as often as possible (“move like a mermaid”). Avoid single leg exercises and stair steppers and stick to bilateral movements with both feet on the ground like squats and deadlifts (or check out our SPD Safe Leg Day Workout). You can also try sleeping with a pregnancy pillow between not only your knees but also your ankles. Strengthening the hip muscles and pelvic floor muscles can provide more stability as well.

pregnant woman stretching on foam roller to reduce pelvic pain during pregnancy

3 Exercises for Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Relieve groin and pelvic pain during pregnancy with this quick and effective strengthening and stretching session.

Strengthen, lengthen and strip the adductor muscles that become tight and overworked during pregnancy, pulling on the symphysis and causing SPD and pelvic pain.

Add this routine to your pregnancy workout routine daily during the first trimester, second trimester and third trimester to reduce common pregnancy aches and pain in the pelvic area.

Workout Equipment:

Exercise Ball and Massage Stick/Rolling Pin or Foam Roller.

If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can always perform these exercises seated on a couch or chair as well.

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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Exercises for Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer and prenatal fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 3 Exercises for Pelvic Pain
  • Timed Intervals (45 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest; complete as many reps as you can in the timed interval)
  • Perform Each Exercise x1 (No Repeats)

Workout Outline

  1. Adductor Contractions
  2. Adductor Stretches
  3. Stripping Adductors

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Pelvic Pain Relief

3 Exercises for Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Adductor Contractions

Targets: Strengthens the hip adductors (adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineu) that pull your thighs in towards the midline of your body.

pregnant woman sitting on execise ball performing adductor activation exercises to relieve Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

How To Do Adductor Contractions

  1. Start sitting, feet planted on the ground, knees in line with your hips.
  2. Form both hands into fists and place your fits between your legs.
  3. Exhale as you squeeze your thighs together, pressing your fists into each other. Hold for a three-count.
  4. Inhale, releasing.

Adductor Stretches

Targets: Releases and lengthens the hip adductor muscles in the inner thighs, which can become tight and overworked during pregnancy.

pregnant woman on stability ball performing adductor stretches

How To Do Seated Adductor Stretches:

  1. Start sitting, feet planted wide outside your hips, toes angled towards the corners of the room. Place both hands on your knees.
  2. Exhale as you bend forward, dropping your left shoulder towards your right knee, gently pressing into your inner thighs to deepen the stretch through the inner thighs.
  3. Inhale, sitting up tall, returning to starting position.
  4. Exhale, this time dropping your right shoulder towards your left knee.

Adductor Stripping

Targets: “Strips” or massages the adductor muscles in the inner thighs, pulling the tight adductors away from the pubic symphysis disc to take some of that pressure off the pubic symphysis.

I’m using a massage stick but you can use a rolling pin as well.

pregnant woman rolling adductor muscles in the inner thighs to reduce pelvic pain during pregnancy

How To Strip Adductor Muscles

  1. Start sitting with a wide stance, feet outside of hips.
  2. Focusing on your right side first, apply pressure as you roll the massage stick down your inner thigh, starting near your hip and rolling towards your knee, creating length in the muscle.
  3. Repeat on the left side.

Pin This Workout: 3 Exercises for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

woman in lunge position experiencing pelvic pain during pregnancy pin for pinterest

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