What A Pain in the Butt.

Nerve pain, that is.

A question from a friend of FPF posted this to the Facebook page:

"Do you have any tips for fixing sciatic pain? I used to only ever get this pain when I was a runner, and squats and lunges always helped. This time around, I think carrying heavy diaper bags and a baby on my left side ALL THE TIME has caused the problem. And it has left me limping. Stretching seems to help some temporarily, but then the pain comes back. This has been going on for over a week now. Any tips would be appreciated!"

Why yes. Yes I do.

You're not wrong to assume that the kid and diaper bag has caused some imbalances. So, stop that. And if you can't stop that (you have to carry the kid and the bag, probably) consider the way you're holding those things. Being conscious of your posture and the muscles you're recruiting for tasks makes a big difference. One of the top tips I share with new moms is to practice using your arms to hold your baby. If you do that, you'll gain strength as your kiddo grows, and you won't have to shoot your hip out to the side, lean your pelvis forward, etc. Baby wearing is also a great way to balance your DD/S's weight on your body (and free up your hands for other important things. Like carrying diaper bags.)

The Core of the Problem.

In addition to postural corrections and proper holding techniques, you need to strengthen your core. First, you'll consider how far into your postpartum period you are. If you're more than 8 weeks and have had a vaginal birth, you're most likely good to go for most core building exercises. If you're less than 8 weeks out or have had a c-section in the last 6 months, you're going to go a slower route and be more mindful of modifying exercises.

Start with belly breathing that requires recruitment of the muscles that pull the navel into the spine. Your "sucking it in" muscles. First (and this part is important) cue up your favorite romantic ballad that lasts about 2.5-4 minutes. Find the beat. Next breathe in for 4 counts and let your belly expand. Breathe out for 4 counts using the muscles just behind your belly button to pull that sucker inward and up like you're trying to tuck it under your ribs. Do this for the length of the song. 

Next are pelvic tilts. Muscle recruitment of the abdominals and low supporters in the posterior chain is key in restructuring the core. What does that mean? The parts that are under the waistband of your favorite yoga pants: above your pubic bone on the front, and just above your tailbone on the back. First, cue up your second favorite romantic ballad. Lying on your back with your abdominals pulled in, make a diamond with your hands...thumbs together, resting on the belly button, pointer fingers together, resting on the pubic bone. Use your "waistband muscles" at the front of your body to draw in and aim your fingers to the ceiling for that 4 count exhale. Inhale and let the waistband muscles at the back of your body draw your fingers (and pubic bone) down toward the floor. Be conscious of pinching in the low back here, and bend your knees to put your feet on the floor if you're feeling discomfort.

Abdominal bracing is next. While you don't need a song for this, it's helpful to have reminders. Because you're going to do it and never stop. Imagine what your muscles might do if someone was coming in to punch you in the stomach. It's not sucking in, it's bracing. You're engaging the muscles in your abdomen and putting them "on guard". The reminders can be varied; whatever you name as things that are going to make you think about bracing your abs. Maybe you have fuzzy dice on your rear view mirror, or a ring you always wear. Intention that every time you notice them, you'll think about bracing. Or you can put an image on your cell phone lock screen, or wear a rubber band around your wrist. Or do all of those things. Practice makes permanent in this case. Practice pulling them in, and eventually they'll stay there.

So get these things into your daily routine. They're not exercises...they're movements that will keep you communicating with your core, and get you stronger. You can add in more abdominal strengthening exercises if you're ready, or just start here and make this the work you do for a while. And of course I can always help you craft a plan that's right for where you are, and where you want to go. Just contact me.