Can I exercise with PGP/SPD?

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP), also called symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), can make it harder to move around but there are still activities and exercises you can do to stay healthy.

PGP affects up to 1 in 5 pregnant women and birthing people. It is caused by stiffness or uneven movement of the pelvic joints during pregnancy. Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments for PGP.

Physiotherapy for PGP

Speak to your midwife or doctor as soon as possible if you have any pelvic pain. If you’re diagnosed with PGP, they will refer you to a specialist maternity physiotherapist. 

The physiotherapist can give you information about PGP and suggest exercises to help ease your symptoms. Treatment options include a pelvic support belt and exercises to strengthen your pelvis, stomach and back. 

Keeping active with PGP

PGP affects everyone differently. Some people find that cycling causes no pain, while walking is very uncomfortable. Others say that swimming or aquanatal exercises are fine but certain yoga positions make their symptoms worse. 

If you can, try different exercises until you find one that works for you.  Always tell your instructor that you are pregnant and have PGP so they can help you change the exercises to suit you.

Try to stay active in any way that is not painful. How active you are will depend on how much pain you have. 

Tips for keeping active with PGP  

  • Keep doing any exercises your physiotherapist has advised you to do.
  • Keep as active as you can but stop if you get any pain.
  • Ideally, wear supportive footwear, or at least flat shoes or trainers, when you’re walking.
  • If you join an exercise class, choose a pregnancy-specific class if you can or check whether your instructor has experience of teaching pregnant women. Tell them that you have PGP.
  • Try not to do too much in one go and take regular breaks.

Activities to avoid if you have PGP 

  • Lifting or pushing heavy loads.
  • Exercises that involve standing on one leg or moving your legs far apart, such as some aerobic exercises, yoga positions or gym equipment. 
  • Swimming breast stroke.
  • Any activity that causes pain.

More information

  1.  NHS. Pelvic pain in pregnancy. (Page last reviewed: 12 December 2022. Next review due: 12 December 2025)
  2.  NICE (2021). Antenatal care: NICE guideline 201. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 
  3.  POGP. Pregnancy related Pelvic girdle pain and low back pain during pregnancy and after having a baby. (Page accessed Sept 2022)
  4.  Pelvic Partnership. Exercise and PGP. (Page last reviewed: 2017)
  5.  Verstraete EH, Vanderstraeten G, Parewijck W (2013) Pelvic Girdle Pain during or after Pregnancy: a review of recent evidence and a clinical care path proposal. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2013; 5(1): 33-43.
Review dates
Reviewed: 29 May 2023
Next review: 29 May 2026