Avoiding Aches and Pains in Pregnancy….
Pregnancy is not always the most comfortable of times. A rapidly changing body size and shape and a new cocktail of hormones surging through the bloodstream can result in many shifts- some of those being in bones and joints, resulting in pain and limited function. Bodies are smart and spend 9 months preparing to allow for delivery, so ligaments increase in their ability to stretch, creating laxity and potentially causing too much motion. While every case requires individual evaluation by a physical therapist, here are some basic rules for staying more comfortable and keeping your body safe in pregnancy.
No crossing your legs (or ankles): The more we bend ourselves into pretzel-like shapes, the more opportunity we give our joints to stretch to their maximum and potentially shift out of place. This is common in the Sacroiliac joint and the pubic symphysis. To keep happy pelvic bones, sit on sturdy surfaces with knees in front of hips and feet firmly planted on the ground. While this feels boring, it can prevent many problems and even make currently achey joints feel better.
Sleep supported: Sleep on 1 side with a king sized pillow or pregnancy pillow between knees, extending down to between ankles. Similar to the concepts above in sitting, this will keep knees aligned with hips and prevent twisting of those looser pelvic joints. Mid back soreness? You may also want to hug a pillow in front of your chest to keep from twisting your trunk in the night.
Watch out for workouts: Many moms were runners or participated in high impact workout activities prior to pregnancy. While we absolutely support exercise in the appropriate pregnant population, those bouncing and jarring motions that your body could tolerate prior to pregnancy can now cause serious shifting and damage in the loosened joints of your knees, feet, pelvis, and low back. Talk to a physical therapist about modifying exercise so that you still feel like you’re getting a workout, but you’re not putting yourself at risk for pain and dysfunction.
No sit ups or crunches: Think you can crunch off that baby weight and keep your tummy tight through pregnancy? Wrong. These maneuvers can contribute to a splitting or tearing of the abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti, and can also put lots of pressure on the pelvic floor. There are safe ways to utilize your abdominal muscles and protect your spine, but crunches and sit ups are NOT an option. This goes for postpartum workouts as well. Talk to a physical therapist for more information.