Ryn’s Journey: from Pain & Despair to Hope & Relief

Kevin & Ryn talk about how to use the MatenaLIFT two-step home program to relieve your pregnancy related back/pelvic pain.

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5 QUESTIONS: Test Your Knowledge in Relieving Pregnancy-Related Pain.

back pain

Question 1:

True or False: More than 50% of women will experience some form of back and/or pelvic pain during their pregnancy?

Question 2:

Which body zone is most directly challenged by your developing pregnancy?

  1. Low Back
  2. Pelvis
  3. Hips
  4. Legs

Question 3:

Which activity is the key to relieving pregnancy-related back / pelvic pain?

  1. Build your body strength
  2. Improve your aerobic fitness
  3. Support your upright pelvis
  4. Improve your flexibility

Question 4:

Which of these can you use to help support your upright pelvis?

  1. Maternity core exercises
  2. Prenatal yoga
  3. Pelvic tilt exercises
  4. Maternity Support
  5. All of the above

Question 5:

When should you consider using maternity support?

  1. It’s up to you
  2. If you are pregnant
  3. If you are pregnant and get intermittent pain
  4. If you are pregnant and get persistent pain

You have successfully completed the quiz, let’s go through the answers:

For Question 1:

True or False: More than 50% of women will experience some form of back and/or pelvic pain during their pregnancy?

ANSWER:  True

With your baby’s front loaded weight and your loosening muscles and ligaments, it’s no wonder that studies on this topic conclude that somewhere between 50-70% of woman will experience some form of back and/or pelvic pain in pregnancy. Are you in this category?

For Question 2:

Which body zone is most directly challenged by your developing pregnancy?

  1. Low Back
  2. Pelvis
  3. Hips
  4. Legs

ANSWER:  B. Pelvis

With your baby’s weight focused over your pubic bones, it is your pelvis that is directly challenged by your developing pregnancy. If your pelvis is unable to meet this challenge and rocks forward in response to your baby’s weight, it sets off a “chain reaction” that increases the stress on your low back, hips, and legs.

For Question 3:

Which activity is the key to relieving pregnancy-related back / pelvic pain?

  1. Build your body strength
  2. Improve your aerobic fitness
  3. Support your upright pelvis
  4. Improve your flexibility

ANSWER:  C. Support your upright pelvis.

Even though all of these activities can help to improve your general health and fitness levels, only activities which support your upright pelvis directly address the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related discomfort, the forward rotation of your pelvis.

For Question 4:

Which of these can you use to help support your upright pelvis?

  1. Maternity core exercises
  2. Prenatal yoga
  3. Pelvic tilt exercises
  4. Maternity Support
  5. All of the above

ANSWER:  E. All of the above

There are selections within each category that you can use to help support your upright pelvis and get relief.  Here are some examples:

  1. Maternity core exercises: choosing core exercises that emphasizes the pelvic tilt position and the activation of your deep “inner” core can help you support your upright pelvis. If interested, check out my blog post Exercise Your Inner Core to Help Relieve Pregnancy-Related Back Pain.
  2. Prenatal yoga: choosing poses which rock you pelvis backwards and flattening the curve in your low back help to support your upright pelvis. My favorite poses to do this are Child’s Pose and Happy Baby.
  3. Pelvic tilt exercises: there are special pelvic tilt exercises that combine body positioning, leverage, and muscle activity that are particularity helpful in resetting and supporting your upright pelvis. If interested, check out this Corrective Exercise video of me taking one of my patients through the pelvic tilt exercise I use to help my patients.
  4. Maternity support: As the only support available that directly addresses the underlying cause of pregnancy-related pain, the forward rotated pelvis, our patients use MaternaLIFT to help support their upright pelvis and get relief.

For Question 5:

When should you consider using maternity support?

A.  It’s up to you
B.  If you are pregnant
C.  If you are pregnant and get intermittent pain
D.  If you are pregnant and get persistent pain

ANSWER:  A. It’s up to you

This is really a judgment call on your part. In general, if your discomfort is mild and intermittent, you can usually use light exercise activities to help support your upright pelvis and get relief. If your discomfort is more significant or returns with activity, supporting your upright pelvis with MaternaLIFT is often the best way to get sustained relief.

Congratulations for taking the quiz! I hope that that you learned something about relieving your pregnancy-related back / pelvic pain in the process.

To Summarize:

Regardless of how many questions you answered correctly, the key takeaway from this quiz is that the best way to relieve your pregnancy-related pain is to focus on specific action steps to help to support your upright pelvis.

Ask yourself this simple question and trust your instincts:

What do I need to do to get sustained relief?

Most of my patients have a sense of what they need to do to get relief.  If their discomfort is mild, they usually want to try exercises first. If their discomfort is significant and persistent, they usually know that they will need some form of maternity support to get sustained relief.

As long as you choose action steps that are focused on supporting your upright pelvis, and are appropriate for your circumstances, you will be likely be surprised how much relief you can get.

Consult with your health care practitioner to help you choose the best combination of action steps to help support your upright pelvis and relieve your pregnancy-related pain.

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.

Bedtime Tips: How to Relieve Back/Pelvic Pain at Night

Do this exercise just before going to bed; this exercise helps to reset your upright pelvis and takes stress off your low back, pelvis, hips, and legs.

exercise-1

NOTE: If your bed surface is low, put your foot up on the bed instead of your knee

OPTIONAL: ICE IT DOWN

If you’ve had pain during the day, try using ice for 10-15 minutes over the painful body zones, immediately after doing your exercise, and just prior to going to sleep.

READY FOR BED!

Lie on your side with a pillow between your knees and bring your knees up as high as you can towards your chest without putting pressure on your belly. If you are in the second or third trimester, add a thin, folded, towel under your belly.

To change position, Keep your knees bent and the pillow in place when rolling over to the other side..

NOTE: MaternaLIFT support helps to relieve the stress on your back, pelvis, hips, and legs as you function throughout the day. Even after taking the garment off in the evening, most of our patients report improved comfort and the ability to sleep when resting at night.

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.

Relieving Pregnancy-Related Hip Pain: Julie’s Story

badpositiondarker               barmonde2               ML-lady-with-clothes

   Hip Stress On                                        Julie                                   Hip Stress Off

“Shortly into my second trimester, my right hip started giving me problems. I had hip pain that increased in severity depending on what I was doing that day. I am a waitress during the days, and after my shift I would be in so much pain that I had to lay down for the rest of the day. I couldn’t get much done. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep my job. My midwife suggested the Baby Belly Band, and sent me to Kevin Hansen for physical therapy. I bought the belly band and wore it every day, but it didn’t seem to help much. Kevin suggested I try his garment, the MaternaLIFT. It has completely taken away my hip pain. It stabilized my hip joints. I can not only keep my job, but pick up extra shifts if I want to. MaternaLIFT has given me my life back. Thanks Kevin Hansen for making this amazing garment! It’s helped me tremendously”

Julie B.

Why is hip pain so common in pregnancy?

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

Once your pelvis rotates forward, the ligaments that support its joints slacken, and subsequently your pelvis becomes less stable.   This sets off a “chain reaction” through the body that increases the stress on your low back, pelvis, hips, and legs.

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

In Julie’s case, it was primary the right pelvic bone that had rotated forward and destabilized. This disrupted the alignment of her right hip joint and made her vulnerable to flare-ups of right hip pain with her busy work schedule as a waitress.

What can you do to get relief?

Here is the protocol our patients use to get relief.

Step 1:  Corrective Exercise + Ice

The corrective exercise is done to reset your upright pelvis and improve the alignment over your hips. The ice is used to help reduce the inflammation over the joints and supporting muscles and ligaments. For our patient’s, we recommended doing the corrective exercise at least twice / day (morning / evening) and then 10 minutes of icing done after their evening exercise.

Step 2:  Add MaternaLIFT support

The use of MaternaLIFT support is added if you are unable to get sustained relief with the corrective exercise. This usually means that your pelvic joints have been destabilized and are unable to “hold” their improved upright position as you function throughout the day. MaternaLIFT helps to support the upright pelvis and is often just what you need to get sustained relief.

This was the case for Julie, we started with the corrective exercise and she was able to get some short term relief following her exercise. However, her right pelvic joints were unstable and were returning to their forward stressed position as she went through her work day. Since she had already purchased the other maternity support, we first tried to use this support to “hold” her improved pelvic position, but it didn’t work. Once she added the use of MaternaLIFT, she was able to maintain her upright pelvis throughout her work day.

Why did Julie respond so much better to the use of MaternaLIFT?

MaternaLIFT is the only maternity support available that directly addresses the underlying cause of her hip pain, the forward rotated pelvis. MaternaLIFT is designed specifically to support the upright pelvis.

To learn more about the protocol our patients use to relieve pregnancy-related hip pain, view our  presentation of the HOME PROGRAM described above.

Please consult directly with your health care practitioner to help develop your care plan to support your upright pelvis and relieve your pregnancy related hip pain.

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.

How to Manage Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction “SPD”

badpositiondarker          shutterstock_195141521        ML-lady-with-clothes

Pubic Stress On                               Pubic Symphysis                               Pubic Stress Off

Did you know that your pubic bones are in their most stable position when your pelvis is upright?

SPD is the common pregnancy-related complication in which the pubic symphysis, the joint that connects your two pubic bones together, is compromised by your baby’s front loaded weight within the uterus as well as your loosening soft tissues (think cartilage, muscles, and ligaments).

With SPD, the result of this “looseness” and pressure is that your pubic bones “uncouple” and get driven downward and apart by your baby’s front loaded weight.  The common symptoms associated with SPD include: pain felt across front side of your pelvis; localized pain over the pubic zone, and/or or pain projecting into the groin area (the upper / inner thighs).

In addition, SPD can produce a generalized feeling of weakness in the lower body “I feel like my legs are going to give-out underneath me” when standing or walking.

To effectively manage SPD, focus on resetting and supporting your upright pelvis, the most stable position for your pubic bones. This is your best way to get relief.

Our guest for this blog post is Marissa, she is one of our patients who is presently managing SPD, and has consented to tell her story and join the conversation, in hopes of helping other women suffering from this condition.

“My name is Marissa, I have a five year old daughter, and work full-time with a job that requires being up on my feet for extended periods of time. During my first pregnancy, I did not encounter any kind of pain and had a normal birth experience. With this pregnancy, I first started experiencing groin pain toward the end of my first trimester. It was daily and chronic, but not overwhelming at first. I called my physician who recommended that I purchase a maternity belt to help support my ligaments. I obliged and found that it did not help at all (the belt wrapped around my hips and attached in front with velcro). In the meantime, my pain was getting worse (groin and now into the pubic zone) and I would have days that I would truly waddle, even though I was barely into my second trimester. I decided I needed more help and went to physical therapy. Once Kevin identified SPD, and found that my pubic bones were shearing downward, I started by doing some light exercises to help reset my upright pelvis and did notice some short term relief following the exercises, but my symptoms would still come back and escalate over the course of my workday. At that point, Kevin suggested that I try a Maternalift support. Once I started wearing this new support, there was a noticeable reduction in my pain level by the second day- it was truly amazing. I continue to go to PT once every other week, but I am able to function during the day without much discomfort. I still have considerable pain at night when trying to sleep, but I have been able to continue with my regular work schedule and I am now in my third trimester. I wear the Maternalift daily and it is on for approximately 14-hours a day. I never leave the house without it on. My pain is now just a nuisance, instead of a true hindrance. If it weren’t for PT and the Maternalift support, I would be in much worse shape and unable to enjoy the joys of pregnancy.”

Discussion Point One:

Despite our best efforts, notice that Marissa has not achieved a perfect outcome. Why is that?

With SPD, there is a wide range of instability that can occur over the pubic symphysis, think of a bell curve for SPD.  On one end of the curve is just slight instability in which the pubic bones are relatively stable and only get strained when the body is challenged with higher stress activities. On the other end of the curve is severe instability in which basic movements or weight bearing create significant shearing of the pubic bones and high levels of pain.

If your SPD is mild, it is possible that you can get sustained relief with the daily execution of your corrective exercises done to reset your upright pelvis.

Though, for Marissa, her level of pelvic instability is towards the higher end of our SPD bell curve. Did you notice that she was only able to get partial, short term relief of her pain with the corrective exercises? This means that her symphysis is so unstable that her pubic bones quickly shear back into their downward strained position soon after completed her exercises. Even with her MaternaLIFT on, she is still getting some downward shearing stress on her pubic bones during movement. This is why she still feels irritation and instability over the pubic zone when she takes the garment off to rest at night.

The bottom line is that if your SPD, like Marissa’s, is on the higher level of our bell curve, you will likely need the added use of maternity support to help you “hold” your upright pelvis and get sustained relief. Due to its innovative design,  MaternaLIFT is usually more effective to supporting the upright pelvis and providing relief then traditional maternity belts and braces.

The question for you is:   Which side of our SPD bell curve are you on?

Discussion Point Two:

Did you notice that she had no problems in her first pregnancy, and then developed her SPD symptoms early in her second pregnancy?  What changed between her first and second pregnancies?

This is a pattern that I see quite often with women who have gone through previous child birth(s), especially previous C-section births. In general, your pelvis tends to get less stable each time you go through  successive pregnancies and births. You can mitigate this to some extent by re-strengthening your core following the birth of your child.

For Marissa, we know that there is not much stress on the pubic bones from her baby’s weight at 12 weeks pregnant. However, there are other factors which can contribute to the destabilization of the pelvis, even early in the pregnancy.

My suspicion is that a combination of factors contributed to her early onset of SPD including, deconditioning of her core from her previous pregnancy and child birth, her muscles and ligaments getting excessively loose in response to the pregnancy hormones, and her busy daily activity schedule.

To learn more about factors that can destabilize your pelvis in pregnancy as well as a more detailed discussion about the differences between MaternaLIFT support and traditional maternity support braces, check out my last blog post entitled, When Should You Consider Using Maternity Support?

To summarize, if you are suffering from SPD, the best way to manage your symptoms is to focus on resetting and supporting your upright pelvis.

Our patient’s with SPD utilize a specific HOME PROGRAM that involves specific exercises to help reset the upright pelvis and the use of a MATERNALIFT (if needed) to help support their upright pelvis as they function throughout the day.

Please consult directly with your health care practitioner to develop your care plan to help support your upright pelvic and  manage your SPD symptoms.

Marissa has agreed to participate in this conversation, Feel free to ask questions to either of us.

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.

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.

The Underlying Cause of Pregnancy-Related Back / Pelvic Pain

badpositiondarker                                                         ML-lady-with-clothes

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.