Objective: To determine whether participation in a group fitness class for pregnant women can prevent and treat pelvic girdle pain and low back pain.
Design: An observer-blinded randomized controlled trial.
Participants: A total of 105 sedentary, nulliparous pregnant women, mean age 30.7 years (standard deviation (SD) 4.0), mean pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) 23.8 (SD 4.3), were assigned to either control or exercise groups at mean gestation week 17.7 (SD 4.2).
Methods: The exercise intervention followed the guidelines of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and included a 60 min general fitness class, with 40 min of endurance training and 20 min of strength training including stretching, performed at least twice per week for a minimum of 12 weeks. Outcome measures were number of women reporting pelvic girdle pain and low back pain after the intervention (mean pregnancy week 36.6 (SD 0.9)) and postpartum (mean 7.7 (SD 1.7)).
Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the exercisers and controls in numbers reporting the 2 conditions after the intervention (pelvic girdle pain: odds ratio (OR) = 1.34, CI = 0.56-3.20 or low back pain: OR = 1.10, CI = 0.47-2.60) or postpartum (pelvic girdle pain: OR = 0.38, CI = 0.13-1.10 or low back pain: OR = 1.45, CI = 0.54-3.94). A comparison of the women who had attended at least 80% of the weekly exercise classes with the control participants did not change the results.
Conclusion: Participation in regular group fitness classes during pregnancy did not alter the proportion of women reporting pelvic girdle pain or low back pain during pregnancy or after childbirth.