Ways to Relieve Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women experience sciatica pain during pregnancy. For most, the sciatica flares from the ever adapting postural changes the pregnant body goes through as the baby grows.
Sciatica is a name for sharp, shooting or tingling symptoms caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Pregnant patients suffering from sciatica pain will feel it primarily originate in the lower back, buttocks, or hip and then travel down one or both legs. In pregnant women, muscles that attach onto the pelvis can become tight and over worked from the adaptive postures, this along with a misaligned pelvis can cause sciatica pain. The nerve pain of sciatica varies dramatically from patient to patient.
But there are several treatments to relieve sciatica pain during pregnancy. Some involve the care and expertise of others, like chiropractors, yoga instructors, and massage therapists. However, there are exercises you can do on your own at home daily to help create more comfort.
Specialty Prenatal Care for Pregnant Women with Sciatica
Chiropractic care for pregnant women is incredibly effective in realigning the pelvis to create more space for the growing baby and to relieve sciatic pain. Also, realigning the pelvis allows for decreased labor times, optimal fetal position and better natural labor outcomes in most cases. Dr. Nelson is certified by the ICPA in Webster’s technique, which aligns the pelvis and relaxes associated soft tissue to support a more comfortable, easier and safer birth.
At NNC, we refer to both AC Massage Therapy and Erin Hansen for prenatal massage. Like prenatal chiropractic care, massage offers a drug-free, noninvasive and hands-on approach to helping the body realign and relieve pain. Pregnancy massage incorporates soft fluid strokes in order to create deep relaxation for the body and the mind helping to ease the stresses of pregnancy. The focus of prenatal massage is therapeutic, rehabilitating massage to help get patients out of sciatica or other pain associated with pregnancy.
In Reno, we are lucky to have some great yoga studios and teachers who specialize in prenatal yoga. Yoga Loka and the Biggest Little Baby (formerly Nurturing Nest) offer classes specific to moms-to-be. Prenatal yoga increases balance and posture as you become stronger and more flexible, especially in your hips where it is needed the most for labor. Yoga can also relieve the aches and pains associated with your changing body.
Exercises and Stretches for Pregnant Women Suffering from Sciatica
Seated Figure Four Stretch (Piriformis Stretch)
For this exercise, just sit normally in a chair and cross an ankle over the opposite knee without putting any torque in the upper back. Then gently bend forward at the hips, leading with the chest, and keep your head up, lean forward until you feel the stretch in your lower back and hips. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to a minute and then switch sides. This stretch really works to loosen the hips and relieve sciatica pain.
Wide Leg Child’s Pose
Most people have heard of Child’s Pose, whether you’ve done yoga or not. It is a gentle resting pose that really helps open the hips and relieve the pressure that may be causing sciatica pain. Kneel on a soft surface on the floor and touch your big toes together so that your knees widen and make room for your belly. Then straighten your back, inhale, and take your arms up overhead. Exhale and bend forward so that your forehead rests on the floor, your hips are open, and your arms and hands are extended on the floor in front of you. Take as many breaths here as feels good until you start to feel the openness and stretch in your hips and upper back/shoulder area. Walk your hands back and return to the kneeling position to rise.
Kneeling lunges loosen the muscles in the front of the hips. This can ease pressure on the nerves and the muscles surrounding the hips, including the back and leg muscles, relieving sciatica pain. Kneel on a soft surface on the floor and then step either foot in front so that the thigh is parallel to the ground. You may need a towel or double-up a mat or blanket to protect the kneeling knee. Shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the hip and the leg. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Pigeon Pose is one of the most effective hip opener exercises, so if you are feeling especially tight, this is a great one to relieve that discomfort. Place your hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position. Take one of your knees and gently slide it forward so it’s between your hands.
Extend your other leg straight behind you keeping your foot faced up on the floor. If you need to, place a yoga block or rolled towel under your stretched hip. This may make the stretch easier and make room for your belly. Lean forward over the flexed hip as much as is comfortable. Roll around a bit on that hip until you feel a good, deep stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and then repeat for the opposite leg.