As you may know your hormones affect the muscles and ligaments in preparation for delivery. They become more lax and open which allows the bones to shift throughout the body. When this begins to happen there is a greater strain placed on the muscles causing muscle spasms. Because of this, many times the muscles then compress the nerves running through them. During pregnancy this frequently manifests as sciatica, carpal tunnel or thoracic outlet syndrome. As the pregnancy continues to develop your center of gravity shifts forward and your muscles must continually compensate for this change in their normal functioning.
One reason why you feel more tired is because your muscles are doing so much extra work at this time. There are several areas most effected by these changes such as your low back (especially your sacroiliac joint), upper back, shoulder muscles, and abdominal organs.
The number one complaint I see with my prenatal patients is low back pain. It can be due to several causes including: lifting heavy items such as groceries, poor sleep positioning, and sitting or standing for prolonged periods during the day. There are a few simple tips I share with my patients to help.
- Try to make more trips when carrying heavy bag.
- If you have young children try not to pick them up from a straight leg position. Instead bend your knees like a squat and then lift them. Also whenever possible hold your child on you lap instead of in a standing position to give your back a rest.
- Try rolling tight muscles by starting with a foam roller then progress down to a smaller size tennis ball. This will target more specific muscles along side your spine.
Self Back MassageIf you are still able to get on to the floor take two tennis balls and slip them into a single sock tying off the end. Place the roll at the base of your occiput. This is around the back of your hair line. There should be a ball on either side of your spine and never on the spine directly. You can modify this massage technique by standing against the wall instead of the floor. Also sitting in a high back chair while leaning against one or both balls behind you.
Allow your body to relax in this position. If all your weight feels uncomfortable then just back of a bit until it feels pleasant. When you feel you have relaxed as much as you can then simply move the balls an inch or so down along either side your spine to the next spot. Try resting 30 to 60 seconds in the tighter areas you feel need it. If any area feels too uncomfortable then just skip it. I recommend to do your entire spine three times but its more important to do what feels comfortable for you.
*** Caution: Avoid doing this technique in any areas that are compromised such as disc herniations, cyst, fractures. If you experience pain anywhere along your spine. Also avoid the sacral area of your hips in the first trimester.