It is conventional for pregnant women to experience hip pain, especially in the last trimester when the baby has grown much bigger. For some soon-to-be moms with a high tolerance for pain, this is nothing but a minor annoyance. For others, however, it can lead to sleep disruption and interference of regular daily activities. These 6 hip opening stretches to relieve pain during pregnancy are going to help you through this challenge.
Many factors contribute to hip pain, and the primary culprit is the hormone relaxin. According to a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association Amy Humphrey, DPT, who is also a physical therapist at Body Dynamics, Inc., this neurotransmitter helps loosen up the ligaments found in the pelvic area to prepare the body for the birthing process. Aside from this, the other causes of discomfort are the following.
Stressed Round Ligament
Because the uterus continues to expand as the baby grows inside, it adds stress and pressure on the round ligaments. Instead of it holding the hips and pelvis in place, it creates a sharp pain instead that many mothers feel, particularly when moving around.
As you move further along the pregnancy, the baby will grow longer and larger which causes the uterus to stretch further. Since there is very minimal space for the growing baby, the pelvis and hips will experience increased strains while they hold your body up and keeps your centre of gravity stable.
Carrying a pregnant belly is not easy, especially when you are already on your second or third trimester. Your back and hip muscles need to work extra hard to hold your posture and balance. Furthermore, bending and sitting down can add additional pressure and tension to your hips. Standing for an extended period of time also strains your pelvis and may cause you to feel very uncomfortable.
To help alleviate pregnancy-related hip pains, you can stretch and perform light exercises. Stretching reduces muscle tension, relieves aching joints and eases back pain. It also helps loosen up tight hip muscles and relax a stiff back.
Every pregnancy is different. Remember that your hormones also play a role in the changes you experience in your health. It is necessary to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercises to make sure that you and your baby are safe. But if the doctor does not consider your pregnancy as “high-risk“, then you can typically do these stretching exercises below to help relieve sore muscles and back pain.
Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexors are the muscles at the top of your thighs that allow you to bend your waist and lift your legs. Follow this instruction:
- Kneel on your left knee and fix your right foot in front of you so that your inner leg creates a right angle.
- Put your right hand on your right and put your left hand on your left hip for balance.
- While firmly holding your back tall and straight, lean a bit more forward and shift your weight to the forward leg.
- Lean a bit more forward until you feel the stretch in the left thigh.
- Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Garland Pose or Squats
Squats can help open up your pelvis and prepare you for childbirth. This makes the Garland Pose a powerful stretch when you are close to your due date. Performing squats in the early stages of pregnancy can also help strengthen your thighs and prepare your hips for birthing.
- Stand with your feet facing slightly outward; they should be at shoulder-width or slightly wider than the distance of your hips.
- Slowly bend your knees while extending your arms for extra balance.
- Remember to center your body weight on the balls of your heels.
- Make sure that you inhale while going down and exhale while going up to prevent the Valsalva manoeuvre.
The Butterfly Stretch is an excellent way to open up your hips and relieve pain. This pose releases the tension in your pelvis while targeting your inner thighs, groin and inner hips. The butterfly pose does not just ease your hip pains; it also addresses lower back pain.
- Sit down on the ground and bring the soles of your feet together.
- Point both of your knees out to each other and grasp your ankles.
- Draw both heels in as close to your groin as possible, and as long as it is still comfortable.
- Slightly lean forward and hold the position. Feel the stretch.
- Take big deep breaths.
- If you desire a deeper stretch, you can press your thighs down using your elbows or hands. As your knees move close to the ground, take deep breaths.
Remember to stretch every day while you are pregnant. Doing these simple exercises helps strengthen your muscles and protect you from possible injuries and pain. Flexible and strong muscles are necessary for a smoother labor and delivery.
When you are pregnant, the most critical aspect to remember is to lead a healthy lifestyle. When you do, a special diet is not required. Always incorporate fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. Adding spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and ginger on your food is excellent as they contain potent anti-oxidant properties.
Stay away from sugary treats and junk foods as they may cause weight gain. As for the vitamins and supplements, they are indispensable during pregnancy so make sure to take to your doctor first before consuming anything.