Physical Therapy During Pregnancy
Physical therapy during pregnancy can be useful for remedying common discomforts like back pain or for enhancing your body’s ability to have a smoother pregnancy and birth. Physical therapy is not just for recovery.
Physical Therapy for Back Pain
The number of pregnant women who experience back pain is somewhere between 50 to 70 percent.
The reasons for back pain vary from person to person, but the majority of back pain concerns can be accounted for by one of the following reasons:
- an increase in hormones
- a change in the body’s center of gravity
- gaining additional weight
- a decline in posture
- added stress
Over the last 40 years, the average age of women having their first child has risen from 21.4 to 25 years of age. Due to the fact that many women are juggling both the demands of pursuing higher education and the competitive nature of today’s workforce, more women are having their first child after the age of thirty five.
As a result, many women becoming pregnant are less physically active in their daily lives. This decreased activity leaves an alarming number of women under-prepared for the strenuous journey of carrying and delivering a baby.
Lower back pain is an all too common reality for many expecting mothers. As the uterus and baby grow, the mother’s center of gravity moves forward. This shift increases the amount of force the muscles must generate for everyday support causing women to slump forward. Over time this poor alignment creates muscle tightness in the pectoral muscles, rolling the shoulders forward and creating increased stress on the muscles of the neck, shoulders and mid-back.
If these muscular factors are not addressed, these forces will ultimately be translated down to the low back, an area which is already under a great deal of stress because it is supporting the increased center of gravity.
Physical Therapy for Relieving other types of Pain
Women searching for ways to cope with this reality may be surprised to know that musculoskeletal and postural factors can be directly addressed with a proper physical therapy program. Physical therapy is a medically based profession specializing in pain relief. Physical therapists (PTs) work with individuals to develop a treatment plan to decrease pain by identifying and addressing its causes.
Though it varies from state to state, many don’t require a doctor’s referral or prescription to see a physical therapist. PT’s can begin treating your pain on the first visit, so you walk out the door feeling better than when you walked in. Additionally, since physical therapy is a medically based profession, the services are covered by most medical insurance plans with limited out of pocket cost.
Treatment plans take a comprehensive approach by working on pain’s typical triggers:
- joint alignment
- muscle strength
- nerve involvement
Additional weight, poor posture, stress and control of the center of gravity are not independent from one another. A change in your center of gravity affects your posture, which causes the muscles to work harder. Increased exertion creates fatigue, which leads to a decreased motivation to be active. The absence of an athletic release often results in increased stress.
Though it is difficult, this domino effect can be slowed greatly with the help of physical therapy.
Exercises During Pregnancy
Exercise increases physical endurance and muscle strength, especially in the hips, back and abdomen. Improving these areas can prepare the body for the physically demanding event of delivering a baby. Finally, therapeutic exercise during pregnancy can assist the recovery after the delivery.
It tones muscle which will improve metabolism, decrease the severity of fatigue, and assist in reclaiming your pre-pregnancy weight.
There are no guarantees, but it is fair to expect your pregnancy and labor to be easier and possibly even go quicker following any strength and flexibility enhancements. Although a few visits with your physical therapist is a good start, it is essential to incorporate home exercises into your physical therapy program.
Your physical therapist is going to provide you with specific exercises that target what you need to make your pregnancy easier and even healthier. You can also rest assured that your physical therapist will guide you through proper usage of these exercises so that you can reap the most benefits.
Pregnancy is the ultimate strain on one’s body. Physical therapy can intervene to lessen this strain. A proactive strength, flexibility and stabilization program can be beneficial in preventing or decreasing the intensity of painful symptoms, thus making your pregnancy experience a more positive one.