Why Should I Exercise During and after Pregnancy

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FOR MUMS AND MUMS TO BE…

Have you ever experienced some pain in the pelvis  or in the hips during or after pregnacy?

Poor pelvic control or instability is a condition more common in women and is most likely to occur during or post –pregnancy.  During pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released in the body to allow the ligaments to stretch to accommodate the fast growing baby. With another human being growing rapidly, the pelvis does undergo an increase in loading, which some women cope with a little better than others – this can be due to genetic factors such as natural pelvic and ligamentous structure, or the background muscle conditioning you had prior to the pregnancy.

DON’T WORRY THOUGH…. remember that “instability” does not mean your pelvis is physically out of place but rather your muscles around the pelvis are not providing adequate’ force closure’ or mechanical compression or support around the pelvis while the ligaments are lax.

WHO IS MORE AT RISK OF DEVELOPING PELVIC PAIN DUE TO PELVIC INSTABILITY?

Research has shown that  women who are involved in strenous work, or have a previous history of low back pain and a history of lumbo-pelvic (lower back and pelvis) pain during previous pregnancies are at risk. Although, direct trauma to the pelvis such as a fall can also result in pelvic instability.

HOW CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP?

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Use of Physical Aids

Physiotherapy can help by identifying the cause of the pain around the pelvis, whether it is originating from the lumbar spine or from pelvic instability. Off loading the pelvis may be important in reducing the symptoms such as using crutches or walking sticks. Tape or pelvic/abdominal belts  can also provide some compression around the pelvis, assisting with stability in the shorter term.

Postural and Movement Education

Being aware of movements or postures that may overload the pelvis, and optimising muscles support around the lumbar spine and pelvis are the most  important factors in managing this condition. Some specific advice on what movements or positions you may need to avoid or adjust can make a big difference in avoiding pain aggravation.

Specific and Appropriate Strengthening Exercises

Improving activation of the deep supporting muscles around the pelvis is also extremely important for providing dynamic control, so despite laxity in the ligaments, your muscles can assist in compensating for the reduced support that ligaments can give during your pregnancy. Using real time ultrasound to train deep abdominals and pelvic floor muscles, and some of the deep hip/pelvic muscles are beneficial to someone who has pelvic instability. This is followed by a progressive strengthening program matched to the needs of the individual. Your physiotherapist can recommend appropriate Pilates and Pilates-based exercises as well as monitor your progress throughout your pregnancy and even after your pregnancy.

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Ultrasound retraining of the abdominal wall – Transversus abdominis

If you are suffering from pelvic pain due to instability, see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist and get some good advice on pain management, training in deep muscle activation and an appropriate exercise program.

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Author

This blog has been written by one of our experienced PhysioTec physiotherapists. If you would like to book with one of our physio's, call 3342 4284 or click here to book online.

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References:

Vleeming et al. (1992). An integrated therapy for peripartum pelvic instability. A study of the Biomechanical effects of Pelvic Belts. American Journal  of Obstetrics. 166 (4): 1243-1247

Wu et al. (2004). Pregnancy-Related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPP)I: Terminology, Clinical Presentation and Prevalence. European Spine Journal. 13:575-589