Pregnancy, Back Pain, and Massage

Yesterday, I discussed pregnancy massage in general.  Today, I wanted to focus on how massage can help one of the most common complaints for pregnant women: Back Pain.  Ladies you are not alone, although no two people can share the same pain.Here are some of the most common contributors to your back pain:Hormone changes - Your body is releasing a hormone called relaxin to soften tendons and loosen ligaments for the pelvis to prepare for childbirth.  Unfortunately, the relaxin does not just target those specific joints that are used in child birth.  Nope.  Relaxin is released system wide, affecting all your joints.  As your joints loosen, muscles work harder to provide stability.Postural Changes - As your belly and baby grow, your center of gravity shifts forward.  To compensate you begin to arch your back a little more.  Your abdominal muscles are also stretched and weakened causing additional strain on your back.  Women also tend to laterally rotate their legs to open the pelvis a little more making more room for the growing bundle.  (Think the duck walk.)  This puts your gluteal muscles in a contracted state that can cause trigger points.  Remember for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  When your gluteal muscles are tight, other muscles must work harder to try to create balance.  The tightness of your gluteal muscles can also compress your sciatic nerve.Stress - In everyday life, stress creates tension.  Your pregnancy is no different.  Emotional stress can translate into tension in your body.Weight Gain - Excessive weight gain can amplify the postural changes.  Emotional feelings about weight can also create a cycle of stress that then leads to back pain.How can massage help? Massage during pregnancy can help by relieving some of the imbalance and dysfunction in your body.   Massage also works as a natural pain reliever.   Releasing tension in your gluteal muscles and lower back can help alleviate the pain you are back pain you are feeling.  It will also relieve some of the trigger points that may be causing you pain as well.  A study of massage and depressed women found that massage also decreased cortisol levels and increased the “feel good” hormones serotonin and dopamine.   (WebMD)Notes from The Clinical Massage Therapy by Rattray and Ludwig were also referenced.  Post #14 of 20 in the February Challenge, check it out!