About 5 months into my pregnancy I started jolting awake with searing night leg cramps. Extremely physically active throughout my 9 months, I knew it was not due to idleness, nor a lack of potassium and/or calcium as I am nutritionally hip to that. Pregnancy research does not indicate what creates the leg spasms that typically begin around the second trimester. It could be the extra weight carried puts pressure on the leg muscles, or the expanding uterus compressing blood vessels that move blood through the legs back to the heart. The interesting thing to me is the difference between how the Western world approaches pregnancy care compared to the rest of the world.
As a certified massage therapist, I studied pregnancy massage that clearly points out many contraindicated points to avoid. The fear is that if pressed too deeply, one can induce labor before it is time. A series of these points to avoid literally surround the feet and lower leg! Gasp! What’s a girl to do to relieve leg pain, move to Europe? Maybe, or maybe just adapt to a European mindset. Overseas, pregnancy massage always includes leg and foot massage because they know it helps women with this exact issue. After many years of bathing in the fear infused waters of Americas massage therapists, I realized that what almost every woman wanted, was exactly what I was taught not to administer. How can that be?
So I began to offer my clients the option from an educated decision. That said, still to this day if someone is high risk pregnancy or carrying multiples I tend to honor the contraindicative points and stay away from deep work in those areas. In my experience, baby comes when baby is ready. The “points” are there to assist in labor, and may help both mother and child with the transitions to bring baby into this world. Needless to say, when it was my turn to decide, I dove in to relieving my leg spasms in multiple ways.
I loved getting pregnancy massages though no one really administered what I really wanted, so I had to find it on my own. Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to the rescue! Following a series of leg and foot therapy ball work, I also frequently did Sitting Seza With A Strap (included below and on the 5 Minute Quick Fix for Feet and Ankles) as well as calf stretches. This work relieved my painful leg cramps completely!
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Read about abdominal exercises for pregnant women.