Even the smoothest of pregnancy can come with an achy back and swollen feet. That’s right, pregnant women are prone to all sorts of pains and discomforts — and not just in the early weeks of pregnancy. Some of the aches come and go, while others last throughout the pregnancy. Though the physical discomforts you are experiencing may not pose a problem to the baby, you can (and should) use exercise to relieve the hurt.
To help you get some relief, here are exercises to alleviate 5 common pregnancy pains.
- Back pain, especially lower back pain, can plague pregnant women from the time of conception to the day of delivery. Back pain can result from ligaments stretching and expanding, a shift in your center of gravity, and weight gain.
What to do: Stay active and keep blood circulating. Additionally, try your best to keep good posture when sitting and standing, and while lifting objects or older children. To strengthen your core safely during pregnancy, do the exercise called ‘birddog.’ Extend opposite arm and leg on all fours. Make sure to move slowly and hold for a few seconds at full extension. Alternate sides and do up to 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is also referred to as DeQuervains syndrome, is a rather unknown pregnancy ailment. It is numbness, tingling and weakness in your hand caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist. During pregnancy, this can be due to fluid retention. Some women develop it postpartum, and you can read about exercises to alleviate the pain here.
What to do: To help with carpal tunnel syndrome, make a fist and alternate between fanning your fingers out one at a time, then making a fist again and then stretching all fingers out at the same time. Repeat 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
- Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve goes from your lower back through your hips and buttocks down each leg. Typically, sciatica only affects one side of your body and, in many cases, requires the help of a chiropractor.
What to do: Imbalances in the pelvis or hips and a misalignment of the lumbar spine or pelvis can cause pressure on the nerve. Therefore, stretching will not alleviate it. In fact, overstretching can make the pain even worse. To help with range of motion and alignment, place a yoga block between the upper thighs and perform pelvic tilts. Arch your back as you inhale, and round your spine as you exhale. Press your palms into your upper thighs and make sure to squeeze the block with your inner thighs. 3 sets of 15 reps.
- Painful swollen feet can be associated with weight gain and a more sedentary lifestyle that many of us lead during pregnancy. It can often be accompanied by water retention in the legs. What’s more, for some women, the uterus press on the veins and impede blood circulation, which can cause the feet to swell.
What to do: If the pain in the feet is caused by water retention, a short walk or the yoga pose “legs up the wall” can help. Lie on your back (prop your hips up on a pillow when you are in your second trimester or later) and rest your legs straight up against a wall. Rest for several minutes. If the uterus is pressing on the veins, the issue is more complicated, but sometimes the exercises mentioned in the ‘sciatica’ section can help with pelvic alignment and can thus alleviate pressure on the veins.
- Headaches also fall under the more common side effects of pregnancy. They can begin early in your first trimester when hormone production fluctuate, sometimes also caused by pregnancy rhinitis and for some women can continue on.
What to do: Yoga and alternative relaxation techniques work best to address anything from sinus headaches to stronger migraines. The bridge pose in particular is great to help your body relax. Lie down on your back, bend your knees and walk your feet in close enough to your hips so that your fingers can graze the back of your heels. Lift your hips and hold the pose for five breaths or support your hips with a block or two. Do this up to five times and make sure to rest on your side in between especially from the 2nd trimester onward.
We hope you find these tips helpful, mamas and that you can enjoy a pain-free, happy pregnancy. Let us know if you have any advice in the comments below.