Pregnant Athlete Journal, Week 8: How Relaxin Kicked My Butt

At only eight weeks into my pregnancy I thought there wasn’t much to worry about other than eating right. Wow, was I wrong. So wrong I could barely walk for a few days from my injured back.

I’m in my eigth week of my first pregnancy and honestly, I’m not sure what to expect. I have no morning sickness and I’m still teaching three classes per week, although I have noticed that I’m way more tired than usual. I figure the first trimester I can still pretty much do whatever I normally do in regard to physical activity and I hope that most Disneyland rides are still okay to go on.

I’m being bombarded by suggestions as to what prenatal vitamin to take (totally helpful), where to go for birthing classes (LOVE this!) and what genetic tests I should be taking since I’m SOOOO old at 41 that my eggs could have mutated quite a bit at this point (kind of scary).

I waited until my first doctor’s appointment to tell everyone I’m pregnant. My friends were still adjusting to the fact that their crazy single girlfriend had gotten married last year and now I throw this shocking news into the mix. I also decided to tell everyone about my pregnancy right away because of several reasons:


  1. I am excited and I can never keep anything that good to myself.
  2. Clearly, now my body will NOT be ready for a fitness competition in December and my friends and family were always asking about the progress I was making toward that goal.
  3. I recognize that women often miscarry in their first trimester but I decide that I’m not going to let that dampen my enthusiasm and share my life-hanging event despite that fact.

My impression was that most of the pregnancy concerns really don’t start until after my belly pops out a little. All I can do now is eat right (especially folic acid), keep exercising and rest. Boy, was I wrong.

I’m finishing up a 45-minute indoor cycling class where I’ve managed to drench myself in sweat, as usual. I’m always careful to continually hydrate myself and stretch afterwards so I don’t think anything of it when I go to stretch my hamstrings. You know that twinge you get when you pull a back muscle that kind of convulses your entire body for a moment? Yeah, I got that.

As I slowly lower my leg back down to the floor, I realize that my spine is now crooked and I have to shuffle my way through the gym and out to my car. I keep going over what I could have done differently and I really didn’t feel like I pushed a stretch farther than I normally do. And then I wonder, “Is this a pregnancy thing?”

zen gray, back pain zen gray, zen gray pregnant, zen gray training pregnantI vaguely recall a hormone called “relaxin” that helps get the body ready for labor by relaxing the ligaments around the placenta and pubic bone, but I thought that didn’t kick in until WAYYYYYY later. Turns out, that very hormone peaks at fourteen weeks into pregnancy so I definitely have that possibility provoking this injury.

Have I tweaked my back before? Sure. And I know from prior experience that a couple of stretches, heat, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory meds help me get back upright again in a few days. However I can’t take meds right now. All I can do is use ice and heat on my back since I can’t take something that will harm the baby and it’s still too painful to try to stretch my back at this point.

Five days later using constant heat on my back, a neoprene wrap around my waist, and a VERY slow daily walking routine, I’m finally standing up straight again. Guess I’ll be more careful not to overstretch now.

Why is it that I need to learn my lessons the hard way?

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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