Some of us notice lower back, sciatic, and upper leg pains during our pregnancy. This is different than the leg cramping that can occur, often times in bed, wakening you from sleep, during pregnancy. Anyone heard of back labor? I had that, what a shock that was. For me it felt like a sometimes sharp pain in my lower back that would occur during my contractions. Talk about an energy zapper during labor, whew.
Since pregnancy, as early as postpartum, but definitely beyond, I have had on again off again sciatic pain. Some of it can probably be attributed to the way I was carrying the baby in my belly, or that I carried her after she was born until she was 3 1/2 on my left hip. Hormones, weight gain (that last trimester I would call my walk to be more of a waddle), lack of sleep, the stress of being a parent, the way I sit during my commute to work, etc. etc. etc.
As a gift to myself late this summer I engaged in some classes with a fitness trainer. Of course I wanted to “get in better shape” but in a conscious way. To learn more about how to be physically active so as to add to my strength, endurance, and overall health. It wasn’t too long into this adventure that I started having issues with my hamstring and sciatic, both of which also had plagued me during my pregnancy.
My trainer encouraged me to pay attention to when it hurt and where. I became more attentive with my body, and listened to it as I moved. I noticed that it hurts more when I walk up stairs, or hills, and walking after sitting for a while either at my computer at work or during my commute in the car.
My trainer has encouraged me to pay attention to the placement of my foot when I walk, especially on stairs or hills. To set the foot down flat, in more of a heel toe as opposed to toe or ball of foot first. This is the same type of stride that she taught me when we would practice running and sprinting. Whole foot down, emphasis on heel first. We have also increased the amount of stretching that I do daily. Focused on strength exercise for my gluteus maximus. And given myself permission to rest and not push myself so hard.
If you are having hamstring, low back pain, or sciatic, consider paying attention to your stride when you walk. And of course pay close attention to what you are doing when it hurts and exactly where is the location of the pain or discomfort. Are you walking on the ball of your foot first as opposed to full foot or heel first? How do you take the stairs? Are you creating new habits in your walking stride that might be causing further injury and pain? What shoes are you wearing? I am convinced that I started walking differently when I was wearing slip on platform sandels. And ladies, high heels have us walking propped up on the balls of our feet.
I certainly am not a physical therapist or even a trainer. But learning more about how I move my body with this injury has me guessing that I was probably favoring my leg the same way when these ailments were bothering me during pregnancy too.
If you have back or leg pain that did not result from a specific injury. If you are pregnant or not. If this pain impacts the way you walk or sleep. Or it doesn’t resolve after a couple of days, it probably makes sense to give a call to your medical provider, see an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. It is amazing what you can learn about the way you move and how that can be a help or a hindrance to your recovery.
Slowing down and being mindful of how you move your body, even when it is something as simple as walking or going up a flight of stairs is a good practice to initiate.
Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW and Co-Founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month
***We are not doctors or medical providers here at PAM, just mom’s who have been pregnant and care about women and babies. In our aim to talk about all things pregnancy and parenting, we do not proclaim to give any medical advise. We ALWAYS encourage our readers to use common sense, and talk to your medical providers before starting any exercise or taking any supplements, to just maintain open conversations with your doctors and midwives about your health.
Alisa B. Donner, back labor, back pain, physical changes, physical fitness, postpartum, Pregnancy, sciatic