Physiotherapy During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can significantly affect your overall daily functioning. A woman's body goes through incredible physical and hormonal changes before and after delivery. For years, discomfort associated with pregnancy has been accepted as a normal part of the process. Today, many physicians recommend physical therapy to relieve the discomfort experienced by pregnant women and help prepare the pregnant body for an easier delivery and recovery process.
What is Physiotherapy?
Physical Therapy is a client-focused health profession aimed at treating problems associated with the muscles, bones and joints, as well as the circulatory, respiratory and nervous system. A physical therapist recommends physiotherapy techniques for patients to manage their own symptoms as part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Pregnant women can use these methods as part of a regular exercise routine to maintain proper fitness.
Pregnancy and Physical Therapy
Even regular tasks such as sitting, walking, standing and working can be difficult when pregnant. Almost all women experience musculoskeletal discomfort during pregnancy, and as many as 25% of all pregnant women experience temporarily disabling ones. This is due to the tremendous changes undergone by the body during any healthy pregnancy. With physiotherapy, techniques can be learned to help relieve the following conditions:
- Lower back pain caused by a shift in the mother's centre of gravity as the baby grows
- Neck pain and headaches due to changes in posture
- Tightness and pain in the hamstrings and heel cords caused by a flattening of the feet
- Arm pain or tingling caused by nerve compression associated with an increased chest diameter
- Bladder leakage during pregnancy and after delivery due to strained pelvic muscles
- Stretching of the abdominal walls leading to back pain and difficult delivery due to ineffective abdominal contractions
How Does Physical Therapy Work?
Physiotherapy programs designed to treat the specific needs of a pregnant woman are now available. A women's health physiotherapist specializing in issues associated with pregnancy can recommend exercises for pregnant and post-partum women after an assessment. An evaluation generally consists of an analysis of the following:
- Joint mobility
- Muscle imbalances and strengths
- Sensation testing
- Functional limitations
Between four to six sessions are typically attended to teach physiotherapy techniques, such as:
- Pain management for pain relief
- Exercises to improve strength and mobility
- Exercises to help postural alignment and body balance
- Techniques to aid joint and soft tissue flexibility
- Stress relief and relaxation training
- Trial of maternity back braces and orthopedic support for the lower back
- Recommendations for sleeping positions
- Postpartum rehabilitation
Once a woman is familiar with the specific recommendations made by her therapist, she can incorporate them into her exercise routine to maintain wellness and stay healthy during and after pregnancy.
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