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Piriformis Stretches for Pregnancy

Hello again! I'm starting a series today of blogs in which I write about common muscle imbalances I see during pregnancy, and the home exercises/stretches that I prescribe to my patients to offer relief between visits. As always, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise regimen during pregnancy (and if I'm not your healthcare provider yet, give me a call!)

Note how the sciatic nerve runs right under the piriformis muscle

Piriformis Syndrome is incredibly common, and not only in pregnant women. In today's world of sedentary lifestyles, this tiny muscle in your bum can get aggravated very easily and cause lots of problems - the most common being "sciatica". For pregnant women, as the belly gets bigger and shifts your center of gravity backward, placing more stress on your low back and pelvis, and as your hips begin to loosen and spread, the piriformis muscle goes into overdrive, trying to do its job to keep the pelvis stable. And that can cause pain. Pain in the low back, pain in the buttocks, pain down the leg. Its very common in pregnancy, but here's the part you might not know - its completely TREATABLE! I can offer you relief!

In my practice, you will always find me checking the piriformis muscle and releasing it on my pregnant patients. But sometimes from one visit to the next, that muscle needs a little extra release. So here is an easy stretch I give to my patients to do at home.

When your belly is smaller, this position will give you the best stretch. Lying flat on your back, cross the effected side ankle (the one causing you pain) over the knee of the opposite leg. So, if your left side hurts, cross your left ankle over the right knee. Grasp the right thigh and pull toward your head until you feel the stretch in your left buttock area. You can do this stretch on both sides, even if you're not having pain.

As your belly grows and you may not be able to get down on the floor (or get back up!) you can do this stretch seated in a chair. Again, cross the effected ankle over the opposite knee. This time, you're simply going to lean forward until you feel a stretch in your buttock. You can do this on both sides, and you can do it several times per day, as often as needed to get relief.

I hope this helps someone suffering from sciatica get some relief between visits. Its super important to receive regular chiropractic care during pregnancy, but this is a simple way to stay pain-free between visits.

Leave a comment or send me a message if you have questions or wonder about other exercises or stretches I recommend. Next time - psoas!

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