The Biomechanics of Pregnancy: A Systematic Review
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During pregnancy, a number of biomechanical and hormonal changes occur that can alter spinal curvature, balance, and gait patterns by affecting key areas of the human body. This can greatly impact quality of life (QOL) by increasing back pain and the risk of
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During pregnancy, a number of biomechanical and hormonal changes occur that can alter spinal curvature, balance, and gait patterns by affecting key areas of the human body. This can greatly impact quality of life (QOL) by increasing back pain and the risk of falls. These effects are likely to be the ultimate result of a number of hormonal and biomechanical changes that occur during pregnancy. Research Question and Methodology: Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, this systematic review sets out to analyse all available literature relating to the biomechanics factors caused by pregnancy and assess how this might reduce QOL. Fifty papers were deemed eligible for inclusion in this review based on the PUBMED and SCOPUS databases. Results: Angles of lordosis and kyphosis of the spine are significantly increased by pregnancy, but not consistently across all studies. Back pain is significantly increased in pregnant women, although this is not significantly correlated with spinal changes. Increased movements of centre of pressure (COP) and increased stability indexes indicate postural control is reduced in pregnancy. Trunk range of motion, hip flexion, and extension are reduced, as well as decreased stride length, decreased gait velocity, and increased step width; again, not consistently. It is likely that each woman adopts unique techniques to minimise the effects, for example increasing step width to improve balance. Further research should focus on how altered limb kinematics during gait might affect QOL by influencing the human body, as well as assessing parameters in all planes to develop a wider understanding of pregnant biomechanical alterations.