Hello and welcome to the Rise Above Physical Therapy blog! We are so glad to have you here. We are a physical therapy clinic located in Summerville and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina that is dedicated to providing outstanding service to all of our patients. We offer many services within the physical therapy realm, including sports medicine rehabilitation, aquatic therapy, treatment of neurological disorders, gait analysis, and more. Here on our blog, we will cover a range of topics related to physical therapy and health and share tips so that you can maximize the benefits of physical therapy. We hope you’ll enjoy our blog and come back for more!

In our last blog, we discussed orthopedic injuries and how physical therapy can help you recover. Recovery from orthopedic injuries can be a lengthy process, but with the right guidance and specialized care, individuals can regain strength, mobility, and functionality. Here at Rise Above Physical Therapy, our team is dedicated to helping patients recover efficiently. If you are interested in learning more about orthopedic injuries and the role of physical therapy in recovery, be sure to check out our last post!

Today, we’ll be discussing prenatal and postnatal physical therapy. Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it comes with a lot of changes, emotionally and physically. The time period of being pregnant and giving birth can be draining and can lead to physical ailments, such as back pain, or other musculoskeletal conditions. Luckily, physical therapy during and after pregnancy can be extremely beneficial. When most people think of physical therapy, they think of recovery from an injury. However, it can assist your body with a smoother pregnancy and birth! If you are interested in learning more about prenatal and postnatal physical therapy, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.

Prenatal Physical Therapy

Prenatal refers to the period during pregnancy, before birth. Pregnancy is often accompanied by back pain. In fact, around 50 to 70% of women experience back pain during pregnancy. This can be contributed to a few different things:

  • The weight of the baby: As the baby grows, the weight you carry increases, putting pressure on the pelvis and spine.
  • Posture changes: Pregnancy changes your center of gravity, which can lead to changes in the way that you stand and move around. 
  • Hormone changes: The body makes a hormone called relaxin, which allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax. Additionally, the joints become looser as the body prepares for the birthing process. This hormone can cause the ligaments in the spine to loosen, leading to pain.
  • Stress: Besides physical stress, pregnancy can also lead to emotional stress. This can cause tension in the back, as well as back spasms.

There are a few ways to manage back pain during pregnancy, including exercise. Exercise has been proven to strengthen the muscles and boost flexibility, which can ease stress on the spine. This can also increase physical endurance, which can help the body prepare for the delivery of the baby. Like exercise, physical therapy addresses the majority of factors that contribute to back pain during pregnancy. Physical therapy is extremely safe and effective during pregnancy, although you may want to get clearance with your OBGYN before beginning a physical therapy program. 

A physical therapist can use spinal manipulation techniques to ease discomfort while making sure the spine is aligned properly. Additionally, they can guide you through safe exercises that will help strengthen your muscles. These exercises can even be done at home if needed. Your physical therapist will create a treatment and exercise plan tailored to your unique needs. For example, the types of exercises, intensity, and frequency may differ depending on how much pain you are experiencing and how far along you are in your pregnancy. 

It is important to note that even if you are not experiencing any back pain or other musculoskeletal issues in the beginning of your pregnancy, you can (and should) still see a physical therapist! Starting a physical therapy program can be the key to avoiding pain and other uncomfortable side effects down the road, and it can lead to a more comfortable delivery! Don’t wait for problems to arise– Discuss entering a physical therapy program with your doctor in the very beginning stages of your pregnancy. Because physical therapy and exercise can increase your strength, flexibility, and endurance, it can help prepare your body for labor. It is a physically demanding process, but you can make things easier with physical therapy!

Postnatal Physical Therapy

Postnatal refers to the period after childbirth. This type of physical therapy may also be referred to as postpartum physical therapy. During this time period, you will still have fluctuating hormone levels in addition to physical changes as a result of delivery. It is common for women to experience postpartum pain and discomfort in the lower back, pelvis, and other joints. Additionally, many women experience pelvic floor dysfunction, because delivering a baby can weaken the pelvic muscles. Approximately one third of women experience back pain that lingers postpartum. It is important to remember that your body does not just return to “normal” after giving birth– It can take some time for your body to readjust. In fact, some women experience issues for years after they’ve given birth. While things such as pelvic floor dysfunction are common after childbirth, that doesn’t mean you have to live with it! 

Physical therapy after pregnancy is aimed at addressing spinal and pelvic joint dysfunction. Studies have shown that women who participate in physical therapy programs after pregnancy experience a shortened postpartum recovery. A physical therapist can guide you through muscle-training exercises as well as mobility and flexibility training. Additionally, pelvic floor therapy can help restore your pelvic muscles, likely eliminating any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. A common exercise for this is called kegels, which involves repeatedly contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. 

The Benefits of Physical Therapy During and After Pregnancy

All in all, physical therapy during and after pregnancy provides many benefits, including:

  • Improved body balance
  • Better posture
  • Stress relief
  • Correction of muscle imbalances
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Greater relaxation

Rise Above Physical Therapy is proud to offer a variety of programs, including manual therapy techniques and therapeutic exercises. We also make use of facilities within the campus of the YMCA, including a gymnasium, training room, indoor pool, and more. Our goal is to utilize the specific facilities necessary to achieve the best possible outcome for your recovery. If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, we encourage you to reach out to us! Our knowledgeable staff would be happy to assist you! Here at Rise Above Physical Therapy, we use our skills and tools to promote healing and decrease pain as well as restore functional mobility. Schedule a free consultation with us today!