29th June 2016

Pregnant? Feeling a bit like a waddling granny, full of aches and pains?

Of course, it is glorious to be pregnant. But it’s also a bit painful at times, for some at least. Stiffness or soreness in places like the knees, hips, wrists and even fingers will factor at some point.

Th good news is that you’re not alone and it’s very common. So, why?

First up, good old weight gain. It makes sense that, as you get bigger during pregnancy, your joints are under more pressure, so don’t worry. This is another good reason to not eat for two though (that’s just a myth – sorry!). Stick to a balanced diet and choose healthy snacks, most of the time – you can still have the odd treat too. But growing in size is unavoidable so try to rest and get those feet up if your knees, hips and ankles hurt.

Fluid gain can also cause problems, especially in places like your ankles and wrists as this also puts pressure on the joints. Take it easy and speak to your GP if you are experiencing severe symptoms.

Whether you are still pregnant or have recently had a baby, you will have no doubt heard of the hormone relaxin. This is responsible for many of those aches. It is released by the placenta to help soften joints ahead of birth in a bid to ready your pelvis for pushing out that human you’re growing. The consequence of this is that the ligaments and muscles around your joints become slack too, meaning you will be less stable. Relaxin stays around in the body after baby arrives too, so the joints do take time to strengthen again.

All of this points to the fact that joint pain pre and post baby is common but what can you do to alleviate it?

Keeping up with exercise during pregnancy will help. Regular fitness activities will lubricate your joints and keep them flexible and keep tone in those muscles that are suffering the effects of relaxin. Low impact exercise is best for joints. Ideally, choose a class which is specifically designed for pregnancy. Our Pregnancy Fit classes use a combination of standing, seated and floor work to maintain muscle tone and strength, release tightness and promote all important relaxation. Walking is also a great exercise to keep up with so do walk when you can, as is swimming.

IMG_1142 Screenshot 2016-06-29 at 2.55.19 PMIMG_1143

Stretching will also really help with joint niggles. Performing stretches will prevent those muscles that are feeling the strain, from tightening. Tight muscles will only worsen aches and pains. Your Pregnancy specific fitness class will include great stretches for your bump bearing body.

If you’ve already had baby and your joints are still aching, don’t worry – simply follow the same guidelines as you did when pregnant. Keep up with some form of exercise and try to choose a postnatal specific class which will focus on rebuilding the areas that have been affected by pregnancy. Try to remember that your body will take a while to get back to normal, especially if you are breastfeeding. Mention any worrisome aches and pains at your 6 week check and consider going for a thorough postnatal check with a specialist women’s physiotherapist. Pregnancy can really throw your body out of sync and this may continue well into the postnatal period. A specialist can examine how your joints move and determine what needs to be fixed.

It’s important to remember that your body is under a lot of pressure so do listen to it. Rest when you feel discomfort.

*Although join pain is common in pregnancy, please contact your GP if you have excessive joint pain or discomfort – don’t ignore it.*

Words: PENNY STRETTON

 

 

 

Ouch! Why do our joints ache? - Jelly Belly PT