Pregnancy Sciatica : how acupuncture & stretching can help
You can't seem to be comfortable. Sitting hurts, walking hurts, lying down is challenging.... Baby is growing and pressing on your back, creating that shooting pain down your leg and in your buttocks.
Sciatica is very common during pregnancy, and there are things you can do to alleviate the pressure.
In this article, we will discuss how acupuncture helps and what stretches you can do at home.
Acupuncture for pregnancy sciatica
Acupuncture can help via relaxing the muscles of the lower back and changing the nervous system’s perception of pain.
Comfort in the clinic
I usually have a pregnant woman lie on her side so that I can access the gluteus muscles on the more painful side. Sometimes, she lays on her back with inclined bolsters and pillows to accommodate her to the most comfortable posture.
Occasionally, we will use moxibustion or cupping as well.
Acupuncture once to twice weekly is usually recommended, depending on severity of symptoms.
Acupuncture for sciatica has been extensively researched
Acupuncture works by relaxing tight muscles, improving blood circulation, regulating the nervous system, and releasing neurotransmitters to reduce pain. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for sciatica in the general population, and it is also true for expecting mothers.
Acupuncture in late pregnancy was found to relieve low-back and pelvic pain, without causing serious adverse effects to the mother or the child. (doi: 10.1111/j.0001-6349.2004.0215.x. PMID: 14995919.)
Stretches for pregnancy sciatica
1. Lunges: open the hip flexors
Make sure your front knee is right above your ankle
If your back knee is sore, add a folded blanket for extra comfort
Do not over-arch your back, rather, hug baby towards your spine
All 90 degree angles will gently open your hip flexor
Keep your hands on your hips for extra balance and breathe slowly
For added relief, lift your arms up in line with your ears and tilt toward the side of your front leg (if your right knee is forward, tilt toward the right)
2. "Figure 4" stretch: open the hip rotators
Start on your back or seated in a chair if that is more comfortable
Bend your knees, and cross your right ankle over the left knee
Keep your foot flexed to protect your joints
Try to push your knee away from your body without using your hands
Breathe slowly, using exhalations to relax tense muscles
Repeat on the other side !
3. Quadriceps stretch
Get close to a wall or grab the back of a chair for balance
Transfer your weight onto one leg and try to reach the top of the other foot
Without letting your bent knee spread out to the side too much, squeeze your heel toward your glutes
Your standing leg can be a little bit bent for extra balance and to protect your knee
Try not to overarch your back, hug baby toward the spine, you will feel more stretch in your front thigh.
Breathe and balance !
4. Child's pose
Start on all fours, with an extra blanket underneath the knee caps if you need extra padding.
Widen the knees, toes stay together
Slowly reach your fingertips forward as you hinge at the hips and send your hips toward your heels.
Belly rests in between the legs, forehead to the floor, or to a block if the floor is too low !
Let your shoulders relax and sink deep while you breathe
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women's health, fertility, pregnancy & mothering journey,
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