Do you know someone who is pregnant and has aches or pains?
Considering a physical therapy exercise program in the aquatic environment may be just what’s needed. The skills of a physical therapist can assist women: we evaluate and prescribe select exercises during the childbearing years to control pain, improve posture, flexibility and strength.
Additionally, we provide education about the diagnosis, teaches home exercises, methods to improve movement, and proper posture and body mechanics.
By remaining active and fit, pregnant women may lower their chances of excessive weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.
During a pregnancy, a woman at a normal weight will gain 25-35 pounds. The ligaments in all of the joints loosen in the presence of the hormone relaxin to allow for the growth and delivery of the baby. The postural changes associated with weight gain and loose joints can change the way women walk, get out of bed or up from a chair and include:
- Fallen arches in the feet
- Hyperextension of the knees
- Forward tilting of the pelvis
- Increased curves in the lower and upper back
This can lead to muscle imbalances and might contribute to common pains that pregnant women feel, such as low back pain, sacroiliac pain, pubic joint pain, sciatica, and foot pain. Leg swelling can come from decreased activity levels and from prolonged sitting or standing.
What do aquatic exercises provide that is different from land?
- A therapeutic pool is warm, 90-92 degrees Fahrenheit, which increases circulation and relieves muscle spasms.
- The hydrostatic pressure of the water on the body assists with the return of fluids from arms and legs and has been shown to have longer lasting effects than elevation or compression garments.
- Buoyancy is a property of water that decreases the compression on the spine and other weight bearing joints, taking pressure off loose joints.
- The water can be used to assist with gentle stretching or to resist for strengthening.
- Conditioning exercises may be performed with less strain and pain on the body as water immersion lowers blood pressure and heart rate, yet provides a challenge to movement that is similar to challenges of land movement.
When you exercise in the water, you feel as though you’re not working hard although you really are!
Before starting any new exercise program, pregnant and post-partum women should consult with their doctor and in many cases obtain a referral for a physical therapy evaluation.
Don’t accept pain and decreased physical activity when you are eating for two! Consider aquatic exercises that have been individually designed for you or your loved one by a skilled physical therapist.
For more information, please visit the following links:
Deedee Folsom, PT, WCS, is an aquatic physical therapist specializing in women’s health at the UVM Medical Center’s Aquatic Physical Therapy Clinic in Winooski.