I teach a hip class every Friday. I love teaching hip work partly because it’s easy for me, since my pelvis and hips are hyper-mobile. Then I became pregnant, and this added to my ability to bend and stretch in gumby-like ways. Natures’ gift to pregnant women is the protein hormone relaxin that is believed to soften the pubic symphysis to assist in labor. Its peak is reached at both 14 weeks of the first trimester as well as during the labor process. Now I can’t say that I was aware of the relaxin in the state of hard pushing, as the feedback from every sensation in my body was magnified, but at 14 weeks I indeed noticed.
Some women are pleasantly surprised and grateful for the added ability to move their pelvis. If you are like me, at times what is called for is actually greater stability. Hyper-mobile joints can equally create pain as tight joints. It’s the Three Little Bear story embodied; one needs to find a balance to make it “just right.” My task was often to use a technique that stretches and strengthens simultaneously known as PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation). This technique can be used to increase flexibility and range of motion, but for me it also provided stability in my joints so I wasn’t a walking waterbed. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing!
Read our “Pregnant women have no fear” article.
Watch our Free Hip Fix Video.
Read about abdominal exercises for pregnant women.
Leg cramps during pregnancy? – Read about it here.
Relaxin makes you more mobile in the hips, a concept that I learned before, but hearing it again makes it easier to remember. Also PNF is new to me proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, I really hope to be able to recall this term. Balance between strengthening and stretching.
As a personal trainer, I find that many of my mom clients experience hip pain after pregnancy and beyond. They complain about having tight hips and instinctively want to stretch. I’ve discussed with them the importance of rebuilding hip stability to decrease their pain rather than traditional stretching. Although the delicate balance you mention is difficult to achieve. PNF is a great idea. What about the YTU Hip Hikers (with its contract-relax motion) and Boomerang at the Wall (which encourages shoulder-hip stability at the same time)?
While i have never been pregnant myself, its seems that for the past year i have been surrounded by pregnant woman, many of whom are runners, yogis, and fitness instructors. This topic had come up numerous times presented as a double edged sword: The flexibility is allowing for greater ROM and ease within postures and workouts, however, there is the concern for over stretching the ligaments or tendons and doing permanent damage that would be noticeable over time, as the these connects do not snap back to shape when overstretched. Many either pushed–and are paying now for their loose joints–or either stopped for fear of injury later on. PNF is still relatively new to me, however, from my understanding and basic application what i great solution to balance the strength and flexibility. I have a few pregnant women who will love this tidbit!
PNF is a great technique. It can be used in the situation above. It is also effective for re-training the muscle (Nero Muscular Re-education) Keep up the good work.
I remember when I was pregnant (with twins) my doctors advised me not to do the breast stroke when swimming, as it could be harmful with a hyper flexible sacrum. I tried it anyway and found my doctors were right. It sounds like PNF would be great for lots of hyper flexible people, even when not pregnant. Cheers!
I think I understand what happened. You have Elastin confused with
Relaxin. Elastin is a protein in the tissue necessary to allow it to
return to its original shape when stretched, or poked, or pinched.
Relaxin is the hormone that is released into pregnant women’s bodies to
allow the bones to shift to support the growth of the baby as well as for
delivery. Specifically the pubic symphysis. All of which I mentioned in
the blog. The site you referenced unfortunately, is not accurate.
I’ve known this for a while and so I am very careful with the pregnant women who come into my class. I was hoping you’d mention “elastin” though, and some preventative care for pregnant mothers-to-be.
in response to Laura Mcintire, this might help http://www.oakleyphysio.co.uk/site/pregnancy it is a short and simple -but very precise- explanation of what the hormone elastin does to hips and pelvis, affecting the lower back, etc.
I’m curious if your hyper-mobile hips caused discomfort prior to pregnancy? And where the discomfort is experienced? Around the sacrum, the ilia, maybe elsewhere? What were the specific poses you used to address hyper-mobility in the specific areas?
Thanks for this valuable insight. Lots of time if there is dysfunction, we tend to think a joint needs to stretch more, not less. Are there any PNF hip minivinis that you would recommend for prenatal students that would accomplish both? I’m thinking of bandha konasana with isometric contraction of the adductors, but if you can share some others it would be great.
I found out that when coming back from maternity leave I jumped back into the fitness world too quickly, trying things that I hadn’t done in a year. Some muscles seemed still very flexible but my hip adductors were weak & unstable. I compressed my lumbar spine, causing intense sciatic pain. I think pregnancy & child birthing is an amazing & empowering experience, which can make you feel like a super hero but when returning to exercise, I think more thought should be given to approaching exercise like physical therapy, to restore strength & stability slowly. Thank you for those YTU therapy balls. I like being in charge of my own PT 🙂
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