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Pregnancy & Back Pain: Is there any Relief?

1/15/14 3:07 PM
50-70% of all pregnant women experience some type of back pain during their pregnancies. Back pain, lumbar and pelvic pain are all common complaints. An expectant mother's body is going through hormonal and postural changes, as well as a shift in the center of gravity - all of which contribute to these complaints. Anticipation and making room in homes, in life and in finances for that bundle of joy can be stressful. These increased levels of stress can also contribute to the aches & pains experienced.

Pregnancy-related back pain should also be taken seriously by mother-to-be and physician as there is potential for endangering mother and fetus if not handled appropriately. Luckily, low back pain usually resolves postpartum, but in the meantime there are some simple things to try to get some relief and enjoy the rest of the pregnancy. 

Reducing Pregnancy-Related Back Pain on your own...

  • Avoid sleeping on your back. Add in a pillow between your legs, and shift to sleeping on your left side. This will help alleviate low back symptoms and ensure the baby and the placenta is receiving the most blood flow.
  • Elevate your feet whenever possible. Getting plenty of rest and elevating your feet will help to reduce swelling and low back symptoms. 
  • Shoes, shoes, shoes. Choosing footwear with adequate support can work wonders for reducing low back pain. Avoid high heels during pregnancy as they exaggerate postural changes that are contributing to your back pain.
  • Wear a support brace. There are various types of abdominal support braces available for expectant mothers. These are sometimes called Sacro-Iliac Joint Belts or a prenatal cradle. A Physical Therapist can help you choose one appropriate for your symptoms, and issue one to you as well.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

  • A Physical Therapist can instruct an expectant mother on ways to relieve pressure from the low back.
  • While each stage of pregnancy is different, a Physical Therapist can guide you through specific exercises tailored to each stage. They can also help to accommodate pregnancy complications if needed.
  • Pain relief. A PT can help to relieve aches and pains through various manual therapy techniques. Many women also find relief from their pregnancy-related aches and pains with Aquatic Therapy.
  • Strengthening. A PT can instruct you on strengthening exercises to prepare for labor and delivery.



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Still wanting some advice? Ask one of our therapists a specific question or request a Free 15 Minute Screening below.


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Topics: Low back pain, pain, pregnancy, sciatica

8 Tips for Safe Shoveling

1/8/14 3:34 PM
We know the routine all too well. A foot of snow has moved in, created a winter wonderland and it must be moved before you can even think of getting anywhere on time. Hey, look on the bright side -  The American Heart Association recommends we each get 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week. Shoveling snow for at least 15 minutes counts as a moderate physical activity and puts you that much closer to a healthier heart.

Unfortunately, an increased number of heart attacks are reported after heavy snowfalls. What's the connection? Shoveling can be a demanding task for the body. Some bodies are just not ready for it!

To be sure you're shoveling safely, keep a few things in mind...

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine before tackling the job. These can increase your heart rate, causing blood vessels to constrict and placing extra stress on the heart.
  • Drink plenty of water - before and after shoveling! Dehydration is just as important to avoid in the winter as in the summer.
  • Dress in layers. We know that it's tempting to bundle up before going outside, but as you shovel and body temperature rises you might want to remove layers as you go. Synthetic fibers (in a lot of athletic-type clothing) help to wick away perspiration better than natural fibers (such as cotton).
  • Find the right shovel for you. Choosing a shovel with a smaller blade will require lifting less snow at a time and put less strain on your body.
  • Pace yourself. Begin shoveling slowly to avoid a sudden demand on your heart. Take breaks as needed.
  • Protect your back from injury. Lift correctly - stand with your feet about hip width apart and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back!) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements - if you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction you need the snow to go.
  • Try to shovel right after the snow lands. Shoveling wet, hard-packed snow is a much harder task than shoveling light, fluffy snow. 
  • Most importantly, listen to your body! If you feel pain, that's a sign to stop. If you are typically inactive or have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before you take on the task.



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