If pregnancy isnʼt uncomfortable enough, Sciatica is another issue that can inflict discomfort among pregnant women. Especially in the second and third trimester, the condition of severe pain along the sciatic nerve can be instigated by the position of the babyʼs head putting pressure it. The excess frontal load, stretching of the ligaments and inability to utilize the core muscles as a result of a growing belly can also be major reasons that women complain about sciatica when they are pregnant. The lower back has much pressure on it and there is not much of a way to utilize the core muscles to lift up out of this gravitational compression to the lumbar spine.
Many doctors and people who have experienced similar situations with Sciatica will say that there is nothing that can be done besides bed rest and waiting for the nine months to be over. But at this seemingly dead-end road where pregnancy-related sciatica is concerned, there are many alternative therapies that individually can stimulate minor reliefs, and together could pack a powerful resolution to sciatic pain during pregnancy.
1. Make sure your mattress is firm and you are sleeping on your side with a pillow between the legs for support. The lower back tends to be in a less compressed position when lying on the side, and the pillow adds extra stability and comfort. Also, when you want to get up, starting to get vertical from your side allows for the arms to help press you up, rather than momentum from the low back. The firm mattress ensures more support while you are sleeping. The firmness of the bed holds the body rather than the muscles and ligaments doing the work.
2. Have a professional Physical, Yoga or Movement Therapist evaluate your posture. They can give you tips on how to carry yourself and move so that the lower back does not take on so much pressure. There are many points in the body, besides the core muscles, that you can utilize for stability. The Therapist can work with your posture and give you simple and safe exercises for to do to relieve pain. Some simple mindful movement tips for posture include:
• Press your feet into the ground when standing and walking. All four corners of the foot; front to back equal pressure. Notice if the weight is always on the heel.
• When walking make sure you take nice, big, bendy steps.
• Notice if you lock your knees out when standing or walking. If so, put a little micro-
bend in them.
• Always try to lengthen the tailbone down to the floor, like you have a tail.
• Think broad shoulders, front and back sides.
• Lengthen your neck on all four sides equally. Because you just lengthened your
neck, see if you can press your feet into the floor enough to lengthen all four sides
of your torso as well.
3. Make sure that you find a way to get some mild regularly. A Yoga Therapist is
great for this as they know about pre-natal Yoga as well as pain management techniques. Yoga also helps with opening up and connecting with the muscles of the pelvic floor; the muscles so integral to childbirth. Because of the emphasis on deep breathing, it is an important connection Yoga and preparation for delivery have.
4. Wear supportive, flat shoes. Shoes with a soft, yet thicker sole, support in back of the heel and over the top of foot are ideal for implementing stability from the ground up. Chacos are great supportive shoes.
5. Get a Soft tissue/Pre-natal massage. This will help with relaxation, blood flow and softening of the muscles and ligaments that may have become dense during a sciatic spasm.
6. Applying alternate hot and cold. To help calm the situation to the body during a sciatic attack, alternate a heat pad with an ice pack. Temperature alternations have four main effects on the body: pain relief, muscle relaxation, blood vessel alterations and connective tissue effects. Alternate twenty minute periods of application and removal.
7. Practice pelvic tilts everyday with your breath. To do pelvic tilts:
• Lie on your back on the floor. Maybe put a thin pillow under the head for support.
• Bend the knees, feet flat on the floor. Feet and knees hip width distance.
• Arms by the side, palms facing up.
• Imagine that your sacrum (the flat bony surface below the low back) is a clock.
12:00 is closer to the low back, and when pressing into it, tucks the pelvis under a little. 6:00 is closer to your feet and when pressing into it, tilts the pelvis so you get a natural curve to the lower spine. 3:00 is to the left of 12:00, and 9:00 is to the right.
• Use the press of the 4 corners of the feet to move the pelvis so you are pressing into 12:00. Inhale and move to 3:00. Exhale and move to 6:00. Inhale, go to 9:00. Exhale, back to 12:00. Move with your breath and use your feet to press your pelvis around the clock. Do 5 rounds clockwise and another 5 counter clockwise. Make sure the shoulders do not get involved. They stay broad and flat to the floor.
8. Make sure that you eat lots of nourishing, high vibrational foods. This is not only for you and your baby, but for your bones, muscles, blood and nerves to thrive on, so they can support your growing structure at their fullest potential.
Alana Bray is a certified Yoga Therapist and Holistic Health Counselor. Using Yoga asanas, she exemplifies Physical and Movement therapy techniques to help people manage and eliminate pain. Alana will be hosting a 2 Part Conscious Movement Techniques Seminar in Solana Beach the first two Saturdays in March 2012. Please visit her website yogi-yoke.com for more information.