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A Comparison of Posture and Sit-to-Stand Biomechanics of Pregnant Women in the Third Trimester With and Without a Maternity Support: A Pilot Study

Peterson, Melissa L. PT, PhD, GCS; Bertram, Stacie PT, PhD; Neelly, Kurt PT, PhD; Ausili, Angie MPT; Atterberry, Bethany MPT

Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: January-April 2010 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 - p 3–9
doi: 10.1097/JWH.0b013e3181d4fbdc
Research Reports

Background and Purpose As pregnancy progresses, various postural and biomechanical changes occur as a result of altered anthropometrics. A number of pelvic belts and maternity supports are available and marketed to pregnant women to improve posture and body biomechanics. However, the evidence regarding the efficacy of these maternity supports in improving posture or biomechanics has been anecdotal, with no published data being available. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential differences in standing spinal postures and sit-to-stand (STS) biomechanics in pregnant women with and without a maternity support.

Participants Five women in their third trimester of pregnancy were fitted with a maternity support for use during the study.

Methods and Measures A pretest-posttest research design was used. Kinematic analysis was used to measure joint angles and movement time during the STS movement. A flexible ruler was used to measure standing spinal posture with and without the support in place.

Results The addition of the maternity support resulted in less hip flexion during the STS movement. While not statistically significant, lumbar lordosis measured while standing decreased when women wore the maternity support compared with without the support.

Discussion and Conclusion Results of this pilot study suggest that pregnant women wearing a maternity support may experience changes in hip position during STS movements. In addition, their spinal curve postures may tend to change. However, it is unclear whether altering the biomechanics during the STS movement impacts movement effort or pain complaints.

Department of Physical Therapy and Health Sciences, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois.

This work was approved by Bradley University's Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research.

Financial support was received from the College of Education and Health Sciences at Bradley University.

Copyright © 2010 Section on Women's Health, American Physical Therapy Association