When Should You Consider Using Maternity Support?

badpositiondarker                 other-support                 good position darker

   NO Support                          Traditional Support                  MATERNALIFT Support

To answer this question, it helps to first understand the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related discomfort, the disruption of your upright pelvis.

As your baby grows within the uterus and your muscles loosen in response to the pregnancy hormones, your pelvis wants to rock forward / downward. This forward rotation of your pelvis increases the stress on your back, pelvis, hips, and legs and is the underlying cause of most pregnancy-related pain.

To get relief, it works best to focus on activities which help to reset and support your upright pelvis. You can either first try light exercises to reset your upright pelvis or you can go directly to the use of maternity support to get relief.

If you prefer to try light exercise, check out step 1 of our HOME PROGRAM and you can view a video demonstration of the best corrective exercise I’ve seen to help reset the upright pelvis. The exercise tends to work the best when your discomfort is mild and intermittent.

If you are in significant pain and/or are unable to get lasting relief with the corrective exercise, this is when I recommend that you consider using maternity support.

It is common in pregnancy that your pelvic joints can become destabilized to the point in which you are simply unable to maintain your upright pelvis as you function throughout the day.

Here is a list of some factors which can contribute to the destabilization of your pelvis in pregnancy:

  • your muscles and ligaments get excessively loose in response to the pregnancy hormones
  • you’ve been through previous pregnancies / childbirths (especially  previous C-section births)
  • the size of your baby
  • your body shape and fitness level (especially your core strength)
  • pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, etc)
  • your daily activity requirements and associated body mechanics (lifting / handling of young children etc..)

The bottom line is that if you are unable to get lasting relief following the execution of your exercises, your pelvis has likely been destabilized and you can benefit from added the use of maternity support.

Now, the question is:  Which Maternity Support Should I Choose?

Let’s take a closer look at the two types of maternity support above and compare.

See how the traditional maternity support brace wraps more horizontally around your waist and anchors in the front. This flatter angle of pull creates a “hugging” effect which tends to support your pelvis in its current, forward stressed position. Also, this type of supports creates tension over the hyper-sensitive underbelly zone and can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Notice how the MATERNALIFT  support straps come down from a steeper angle and anchor above the hips. This support pattern creates more of a “lifting” effect as it helps to rock the pelvis back into its upright position. Also, with no strap tension focuses over the underbelly zone, this support tends to be more comfortable to wear, especially when sitting.

The advantages of the traditional maternity support are that it less expensive to purchase and is easier to put on and take off. This may be sufficient if you feel like you just need a bit of extra support when your up and moving around.

The advantages of the MATERNALIFT support are that it provides your body with a higher level of functional support and stabilization and is usually more comfortable to wear. I would recommend this support if your discomfort is significant and you need to wear your support throughout the day.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section, I’ll do my best to help you.

To learn more, you can view our presentation of the HOME PROGRAM and MATERNALIFT

Kevin Hansen, M.P.T., is an obstetrics physical therapy specialist, who practices in Bellevue, Washington State.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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The Underlying Cause of Pregnancy-Related Back / Pelvic Pain

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Can you feel how your pelvis wants to rock forward / downward in response to your baby’s front loaded weight?

Did you know that when your pelvis rotates forward, the ligaments that support its joints slacken, and subsequently your pelvis becomes less stable?

Once this occurs, it sets off a “chain reaction” through the body that increases the stress on your low back, pelvis, hips, and legs. In fact, it is this fundamental stress to your pelvis that is the underlying cause of most pregnancy related pain.

For the low back, the farther forward your pelvis rotates, the more exaggerated the curve in your low back gets. This creates a progressive increase in the levels of strain to the muscles and ligaments which support your back.

For the pelvis, its forward rotation increases the stress to its joints. On the backside, this pain is felt one and/or both sides of the buttock where the pelvic bones and tailbone come together. On the front side, the pain is felt over the pubic zone and often projects into the “groin” areas.

For the hips, with their sockets built directly into the pelvic bones, the forward rotation of your pelvis disrupts the optimal alignment of your hip joints and renders you more vulnerable to developing hip pain.

For the legs, this same pelvis rotation can increase the stresses on the nerves which run through the low back & pelvis and into your legs, creating what is often called, maternity “sciatica”.

As your body loosens is response to the pregnancy hormones and your baby grows within the uterus, it becomes progressively more difficult to avoid this forward rotation of your pelvis. This is the reason why back / pelvic pain are so common in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you are experiencing pregnancy-related discomfort, assume that your pelvis has become strained and into its forward rotated position.

The good news is that once you learn how to reduce this stress by resetting and supporting your upright pelvis, you can successfully relieve most of the common pain symptoms of pregnancy.

At our clinic, we utilize a specific HOME PROGRAM to reduce this fundamental stress and get relief. The first step is a special pelvic tilt exercise done in combination with a gentle core exercise. These action steps are so focused and effective in reducing the forward rotation of your pelvis that this is often all you need to do to get relief. The second step in the home program is the added use of a new type of maternity support, called MATERNALIFT. This step is added when you notice that your pain symptoms return with activity.

To learn how to best reset and support your upright pelvis and get relief, first read through the blog posts on the best pelvic tilt and core exercises, and then the on the best use of maternity support. This will give you the sequence of information needed to execute our home program.

Also, you can view our presentation of the HOME PROGRAM and MATERNALIFT.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Kevin Hansen, M.P.T., is an obstetrics physical therapy specialist, who practices in Bellevue, Washington State. 

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Exercise Your Inner Core to Help Relieve Pregnancy-Related Back Pain

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How can doing light core exercises help relieve your pregnancy-related back pain?

To answer this question, it helps to first understanding the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related discomfort, the disruption of your upright pelvis.

As your baby grows within the uterus and your muscles loosen in response to the pregnancy hormones, your pelvis wants to rock forward / downward. This forward rotation of your pelvis increases the stress on your back, pelvis, hips, and legs and is the underlying cause of most pregnancy-related pain.

Since your core muscles help support the upright pelvis, you can utilize light core exercises during your pregnancy to help reduce the forward rotation of your pelvis caused by your baby’s front loaded weight.

The best maternity core exercises incorporate both a gentle pelvic tilt to help rock your pelvis backwards along with the activation of the four specific muscle groups in your deep “inner” core.

For you muscle nerds out there, the four muscle groups of the deep inner core are your pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominis, respiratory diaphragm, and multifidi,

Here is a description of the light maternity core exercise that my patient’s utilize to help relieve their pregnancy-related pain.

NOTE: discontinue the exercise if it is uncomfortable to do

Exercise Position: done lying inclined on your back. To create a slightly inclined surface, place three overlapped pillows in sequence and a fourth pillow on top of the first. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground a few inches apart.

  1. Using your hands, grip the skin of your stomach (2-3 inches to the side of the belly button) and gently press the skin towards the center of the body.
  2. Gently rock your pelvic bones backwards to flatten to curve in your low back.
  3. Tighten you “inner” core by a) slowly tightening the pelvic floor (visualize slowly cutting off the flow of urine) and then b) tighten your lower abdominals (visualize gently drawing your pelvic bones together at the central pubic zone).
  4.  With a pillow between your knees, gentle press the knees together.
  5.  Do a light “bridge” by slightly lifting your buttock off the ground.

Hold this contraction for a 5-10 count (say the numbers out loud to breathe). Then return to your start position, relax the core, and start over. Repeat until you feel MILD fatigue.

Try to do this exercise at least twice a day (morning and evening).

For best results, do this maternity core exercise in combination with the best pelvic tilt exercise to relieve pregnancy-related pain.  You can view these exercises in a video presentation of the HOME PROGRAM that I use with my patients.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you.

Kevin Hansen, M.P.T., is an obstetrics physical therapy specialist, who practices in Bellevue, Washington State.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

The Best Pelvic Tilt Exercise to Relieve Pregnancy-Related Back / Pelvic Pain

stretch by herself                                         ML-lady-with-clothes

Can you feel how your baby’s front loaded weight and your loosening muscles allow your pelvis to rock forward, exaggerating the curve in your low back?

This disruption of the natural, upright pelvis is the underlying cause of most pregnancy-related pain.

That is why healthcare practitioners often recommend “pelvic tilt exercises” to help relieve this stress by doing activities which rock your pelvis backwards and flatten the curve in your low back.

The question is…

What is the best pelvic tilt exercise to relieve pregnancy-related back / pelvic pain?

As an obstetric physical therapy specialist who works on a daily basis with woman experiencing pregnancy-related pain, I want to share with you the best pelvic tilt exercise I have found to help relieve your pregnancy-related back / pelvic pain.

This special exercise combines body positioning, muscle activity, and leverage to help return your pelvis back into its natural upright position, relieving the stress on your back created by your baby’s growing weight.

At our clinic, we incorporate this exercise into a HOME PROGRAM that our patients utilize to get lasting relief of their pregnancy-related pain. Step one is this special pelvic tilt exercise done in combination with a gentle maternity core exercise. This step is so focused and effective in resetting and supporting your upright pelvis that it is often all you need to do to get relief. Step two in the HOME PROGRAM is the added use of a new type of maternity support, called MATERNALIFT. This step is added if your discomfort tends to returns with activity.

To learn how to do this pelvic tilt exercise, view our presentation of the HOME PROGRAM, and learn how to relieve your pregnancy-related pain.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you.

Kevin Hansen, M.P.T., is an obstetrics physical therapy specialist, who practices in Bellevue, Washington State.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.