Many women find by the middle of their pregnancies that they are experiencing new and mysterious aches and pains from which it is difficult to get relief. Regular prenatal massage can actually address many of these symptoms, helping to ease your pain, and the massage therapists at Massage Williamsburg can also help you with stretches and self-care that will provide long-lasting relief. But what is the cause of that mysterious pain to begin with? Here, your top 5 pregnancy pains explained:
1. Sciatic Pain, from piriformis muscle compression. The sciatic nerve passes through and under many muscles of the hip, and extraordinary tension in these muscles - in particular piriformis - can cause compression of the nerve, leading to the shooting pain associated with sciatica. A combination of massage and stretching can aid in relieving this type of pain.
2. Sacro-Illiac Joint Pain: As the pregnancy hormone relaxin - which is produced during pregnancy to widen the pelvic bones and ripen the cervix - starts to kick in, many of the ligaments in the pelvic joints are affected. In particular, the sacroiliac joint between the sacrum and your hip bone (or ilium) loosens, and with the added strain on your joints from the weight of your baby, mechanical changes can occur which cause joint pain. Massage can help release soft tissue tension in the area, which can occur when the muscles surrounding the joint contract to counteract the mechanical changes in the joint.
3. Lower Back Pain: from the muscle quadratus lumborum. During pregnancy, the weight of the baby can cause other mechanical or postural changes to occur. Another common pain is lower back pain from tightness in the lower back muscle called quadratus lumborum. As your beautiful belly grows, you may find yourself walking or standing with a more exaggerated curve in your lower back than usual. With this stance, your lower back muscles are continuously contracted, which leads to muscle pain and tension. Gentle stretches and attention to posture can help with this, and massage on the lower back can do a lot to encourage the muscles to release.
4. Leg Cramps: Towards the end of your pregnancy, you may begin experiencing cramps in the calves, which are especially prominent at bedtime. The additional weight of pregnancy puts added strain on the circulation, nerves, and muscles of your legs, and all of this causes fatigue of the muscles. Stretching the calf muscles, self-massage during a cramp, and using therapeutic cold packs (we like frozen peas!) can all help to ease or diminish the pain in your calf muscles. Also make sure to stay hydrated.
5. Foot Pain and Swelling: By this point you’re probably not surprised to read that foot pain and swelling are also largely side effects of the increased weight you are carrying around during pregnancy. In addition, swelling - also known as edema - can be a result of the decreased efficiency of the circulatory system in returning blood to the heart at the end of your pregnancy. The weight of the expanding uterus places pressure on the vena cava, which is no longer able to efficiently pump blood back up from your extremities. Massage is a very effective tool for addressing edema in anyone, as it not only increase the movement of fluids in the soft tissues of the body, but specifically works to assist the veins in returning blood to the heart.
If you are experiencing one or more of these common pregnancy aches and pains, we would love to help you find relief with a relaxing prenatal massage. You can relax on your stomach while being safely supported by the Prego Pillow system, or choose a comfortable side-lying position with maternity pillows. Here at Massage Williamsburg, we have LMTs that are certified in prenatal massage, as well as professionally trained doulas. We believe that pregnancy is a special time that deserves attention, comfort and support, and we look forward to providing for you!