Using Physiotherapy To Treat Pregnancy Aches And Pains

Posted on: 29 April 2016

Your midwife has likely explained that it's best to avoid taking prescription and over-the-counter pain medication during pregnancy, but common pregnancy aches and pains can leave you feeling miserable. These aches and pains can't always be avoided, as changes to your centre of gravity and the release of a pregnancy hormone called relaxin, which loosens your ligaments, can leave you with back ache and foot pain.

You don't need to simply put up with discomfort during your pregnancy. Physiotherapy can be used throughout your pregnancy to bring you relief, and it's safe for you and your baby. During your first consultation the physiotherapist will discuss your current health and assess your musculoskeletal system to establish any problem areas that could be contributing to your aches and pains, such as poor posture. They will then draw up a plan of action with you, which may include the following treatment options:

Manual Manipulation

This treatment uses a series of gentle, targeted manipulations, such as stretches and thrusts, to treat areas of stress and improve blood flow. Your physiotherapist will use this hands-on treatment to loosen tight muscles and release trapped nerves. When muscles tighten, you can develop localised inflammation, so improving the blood flow to the area of your body under stress can promote healing by delivering a healthy supply of oxygen and nutrients to the surrounding tissue.

Stretching And Strengthening Exercises

Stretching and strengthening exercises can be used to build core and back strength and loosen tight muscles. A strong back is better able to cope with the strain of your growing bump, so starting these exercises early in pregnancy is a good idea. Your physiotherapist will show you safe exercises for your particular problem area. For example, pregnant women often experience foot pain due to the ligaments in their feet softening, which can leave your foot arches unsupported and your feet begin to spread out and strain the muscles and joints. Using a resistance band and small ball to flex your feet can encourage the muscles to loosen.

Supportive Aids

Supportive aids can offer relief from aches and help you retain a healthy posture as your pregnancy progresses. Your physiotherapist can advise you on suitable aids and show you how to use them. Examples of pregnancy aids include a back support wedge for those long days sitting at a computer in the office, and a body pillow to keep your back, hips and knees aligned while you sleep.

You don't have to wait until you're experiencing discomfort; you can see a physiotherapist at any point in your pregnancy, and they will work with you to keep your musculoskeletal system healthy.