During pregnancy, our bodies go through many changes, especially physical. It is a time when our posture will change, healthy weight gain should occur, and our endurance may decrease. Other changes may occur–low back pain and sciatica, neck/upper back pain, sacroiliac joint problems, hip pain, muscle spasms, and piriformis syndrome are common complaints from pregnant women. All of them can benefit from Physical Therapy intervention through the use of safe and effective techniques.
We use gentle hands-on techniques such as massage for sore muscles; joint mobilization and muscle energy techniques to relieve alignment-related problems; provide education (including handouts) on proper body mechanics, improved postural awareness/posture, and body positioning for sleeping; instruct you on how to perform self trigger point release; prescribe a home program of stretches and exercises (including pelvic floor/transverse abdominal muscle re-education); and educate you on safe exercise guidelines.
Though the demands on our body will increase, exercise can be a way to alleviate many of the discomforts we may experience. Research has shown that prenatal exercise is beneficial to both the mom and fetus.
Some of the benefits include:
• Reduced weight gain
• Improved muscle tone
• Improved self esteem
• Decreased incidence of varicosities
• Decreased incidence of low back pain
• Improved sleep
In addition to the above, exercise can help to possibly ease labor with fewer complications of delivery and faster postpartum recovery. There is also a decreased need for induction, operative and Cesarean deliveries, episiotomy, and anesthesia. Lastly, exercise can shorten hospital stays.
By Effie Koustas, MPT