5 Tips to Combat Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy

Before you begin a program or regimen to relieve your sciatica, it's necessary that you see your doctor first to understand the underlying cause of your pain.  Sciatica has multiple origins and the tips you will receive here is geared more toward helping you with Piriformis Syndrome and SI Joint Dysfunction, as these are two of the most common causes of pain during pregnancy. This list serves to inform you and guide you to relieving the pain and gaining back your daily function.  If your doctor gives you a list of exercises to alleviate your pain, make sure to follow those exercises fully and ask to incorporate these exercises with that list.

After you understand the root cause of your pain for sciatica, you can begin to address the problem with a mix of stretching and strengthening the surrounding muscles.  

1) The first and best thing you can do if your pain is caused by the piriformis is to stretch

      Stretch your glutes (picture on the left).

      Stretch your hamstrings (on the right).

You can do both of these exercises in         a chair once you reach the 2nd and             3rd trimester. 

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        Stretch your quads.  

       

        Stretch your hip-flexors. 

For variations in these stretches, send an email to cr3ation.fitness@gmail.com and you will be given stretches that will meet your specific needs. 

2) Fire-Hydrants and Bird-Dog

Fire Hydrants will strengthen your glutes, which will help to prevent sciatica pain. 

Lift one leg bent at 90 degrees while keeping your back straight.  Hold for 3 seconds.  Release slowly back to neutral.  Repeat 20 times. 

 

Bird-Dog is geared toward strengthening your core stability and lengthening your back muscles. 

Lift your opposite arm and leg straight out while keeping your core tight.  When you do this your back should be flat. Hold for 3 seconds and return to neutral.  Repeat 20 times. 

3) Triangle Pose and Child's Pose: Hold each for 45 seconds. Complete on both sides if possible.

Triangle Pose (on the left). 

This pose is great for release the psoas muscle that gets tight when you sit.  

Child's Pose (on the right).

This will help to lengthen your back and stretch out your shoulders. 

4) Glute Bridge

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This exercise strengthens your glutes, which will take pressure off of your lower back. 

Hold this exercise for 45 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

To modify, you can complete a glute bridge using a medicine ball if you are further along than 20 weeks. 

5) Avoid sit-ups and crunches, and any exercise that involves excessive twisting at your hips.

If you are feeling any type of pain in your hips, glutes, or back, there is a good chance that you also may have a diastasis recti, which is cause by your stomach muscles separating to make room for your growing baby.  Sit-ups, crunches, and any excessive twisting with sudden impacts or weights can cause your symptoms and pain to increase.  If you do have a diastasis recti, talk to your doctor about this and avoid these exercises throughout the remainder of your pregnancy as well. 

If you'd like to start an individualized program geared toward preparing you for childbirth, and safely stay healthy and strong during pregnancy, fill out the form below and a 15 minute consultation will be set up to go over your goals and exact needs before starting your program. 

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If you have any questions regarding the best exercises for pregnancy you can join Cr3ation Fit Moms on Facebook for some awesome tips and you can email us at cr3ation.fitness@gmail.com for more help.

 

All About the Leg Lifts: 11 Variations that will Tighten Your Tummy.

I was introduced to leg lifts as an athlete in college, but I didn't truly understand the benefits of leg lifts until after I had my daughter. After a bit of research and the completion of my Prenatal/Postnatal Exercise Certification, I decided that leg lifts were going to be a part of my recovery routine.  Leg lifts target the internal hip flexors, the "6 pack" part of the abs, and the quads. I started doing them about a week after my daughter was born and I was able to easily modify and adjust them to meet my needs in the moment. 

I was consistent in doing leg lifts for the first two months postpartum and I saw tremendous benefits: decreased back pain, a diastasis recti that was closing, and a tighter, firmer core.  After two months I figured I was ready to move and went on to harder exercises. However, as women we know that throughout any given month we experience a myriad of different hormones, and if one hormone gets a little overbearing, our physique and function can drastically change.  Around my 9 month mark being postpartum, this started happening to me, and the back pain, pelvic pain, and gap in my stomach started to come back.  Since that point in time (we are now at 15 months), I have done leg lifts nearly every day, and I have not had any issues since.  Regardless of whether you are a mom or a woman simply looking to strengthen and tighten your stomach, these simple exercises make a huge difference!

While each version of the leg raises may be different, there are a few things you should keep in mind while you preform them.  

1. Always keep your core tight.  As you do these leg lifts, your opposite hip may start to come off the ground.  Your goal is to keep your hips even the entire time.  

2. Lift your leg about a foot off the ground very slowly.  You should reach about a foot by the time you count to 3.  Repeat the same method going back down to the ground. 

3. Complete sets of 20 reps.  Once you've mastered 20 reps and it becomes easy, either add weight (ankle weights are awesome) or complete another set of 20!

The Exercises

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Toe Up - Lay on your back with your toe pointed up to the ceiling.  Complete one leg at a time.  To make this exercise harder, leave your other leg straight out on the ground.

 

Toe out - Lay on your back with your toe turned to the outside of your body.  To make this exercise harder, leave your other leg straight out on the ground.

 

Toe In - Lay on your back with your toe turned to the inside of your body. To make this exercise harder, leave your other leg straight out on the ground.

 

Left Side-Toe Straight - Lay on your left side and keep your toe straight out in front of you.

Right Side-Toe Straight - Lay on your right side and keep your toe straight out in front of you.

 

Left Side-Toe Up - Lay on your left side and keep your toe pointed toward the ceiling. 

Right Side-Toe Up - Lay on your right side and keep your toe pointed toward the ceiling. 

 

Left Side-Bottom Leg - Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the ground in front of your body.  Lift your left leg with your toe pointed the same direction you are facing.

Right Side-Bottom Leg - Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the ground in front of your body.  Lift your right leg with your toe pointed the same direction you are facing.

On your stomach-Raises - Lay on your stomach and keep your toe pointed toward the ground. Lift one leg at a time.

 

Bent Knee Leg Raises - Bend your leg to 90 degrees. Lift your leg straight toward the ceiling and release back down. 

 

 

It takes me less than 10 minutes to do all of these exercises daily.  It's crazy what just 10 minutes of exercise a day can do for your body! If you struggle with finding time or staying disciplined with an exercise routine, a 12 week program may be a perfect fit for you.  Learn how to incorporate exercises like leg lifts into your everyday life by joining my 12 Week Program: Moving Forward!  Just fill out the following form: 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeh7rS1lbT557JiD4JbEa8Pz-v30xJh5CgYlyGs-St5maA5iQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

If you would like other great tips and advice, join my Facebook groups: Cr3ation Fit Moms and Cr3ation Fit Women.

 

A Guide to Pre/Post-Partum Fit Moms: Best Exercises By Trimester

I didn't know I was pregnant with my daughter until I was about 7 weeks along. I had been recovering from a concussion, prior to the revelation, which meant my workout regiment included:  not doing anything, resting, or very, very low-impact exercise.  Needless to say,  "fit" was not where I was. Discovering I was pregnant pushed me to change.  I wanted to get back in shape and I didn't want to stop there. I wanted to play volleyball through my entire pregnancy.

Let me preface this by saying I was in the best shape of my life leading up to the concussion. I had returned from tryouts to play professionally in Europe (which I participated in despite a sprained ankle,  story of my life). Even though 2 months had gone by and I was extremely limited, I was still in relatively good shape. I was very aware of what my limits were, when and how to push myself, and the warning signs that would come from my body to keep my growing baby safe. 

That being said, the key to working out during and after pregnancy is to listen to your body. If you are coming from a place where you don't run on a regular basis, I would not suggest beginning your exercise routine by trying to run more than 10+ miles a week while you are pregnant. Start slow and build up.  However, if you already have an exercise routine, simply check with your doctor to make sure it's safe for the duration of your pregnancy. 

Below is a list of abs that are safe to do for every trimester.  I also included a bonus "fourth trimester", what most doctors call your three month postpartum period, to help you recover and get back on your feet faster. 

First Trimester Abs: Choose Your Favorites

During the first trimester, any and all abs are allowed as long as your doctor also agrees. I had a friend who had such strong abs that it was going to crush the baby, so she was restricted from exercise after she reached about 6 weeks. I cannot stress enough how important it is to check with you doctor before doing any physical activity.

For the First Trimester I have included 3 ab exercises that will most benefit you in the long run and help prevent diastasis recti.  These are merely a guide for you. Chances are you may not be feeling too hot as you deal with all the new hormones, so make whatever workouts you do fun and enjoyable.  What are you favorite ab exercises?

1) Flutter Kicks

Laying on your back, lift both feet 6 inches off the ground. Alternate bringing one leg about a foot higher than the other. Continue for 30 seconds or for 40 kicks each side. This exercise will work your lower abs.

 

2) Plank

The Plank will work your entire core, including your back and hip muscles, which are going to experience a lot of strain as the pregnancy goes on.  Keep your hips level with the rest of your body as you do this and hold for 30 seconds.

 

3) Superman Hold

Laying on your stomach, lift both arms and feet off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. This exercise will work your middle and lower back .

 

Second Trimester: Stay Off Your Back!

Doctors recommend that you stay off your back when you reach about 20 weeks, because the pressure from the baby can cut off the main blood supply to it. Up until 20 weeks you can do the exercises listed above, but after 20 weeks you should stay off your back and at this point your stomach as well (if it is uncomfortable). For the 2nd Trimester I have included 3 ab exercises that are safe and effective for you and your growing baby.

1) Cat-Camel

This exercise will loosen your hips and back from tight muscles. Start on your hands and knees with your back flat. Contract your abs and round your back toward the ceiling. Return to neutral.  Then tilt your hips toward the floor and return to neutral.  Repeat 20 times.

 

 

 

 

2) Standing Bicycle Crunch

This muscle will work your obliques, as well as your upper and lower abs.  Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, take your right knee and touch it to your left elbow. Alternate sides for 20 times on each side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Glute Bridge

Your glutes are an important part of your core.  This will help keep your hips in line with your body and take some of the pressure off of them. Laying on your back, feet shoulder width apart, bring your hips up as far as you can. Hold for 30 seconds.  *After 20 weeks do this exercise by resting your upper back on a yoga ball or something to prop you up.  When you lift your hips, your head should still be above your hips and that's OKAY.

Third Trimester: Better to Stay on Your Feet!

By this point, if you haven't been put on bed rest, the majority of your exercises will be conducted sitting or standing. Any type of crunching or bearing down motion will be advised against since it puts more pressure on your stomach and could cause a greater gap. I would also advise against any exercises you do from your hands and knees that let your stomach hang, because it also puts more pressure on splitting your abs. Use discretion here: if your stomach isn't that big, then go for it with your doctor's permission. I had a smaller stomach until about 8 months, so I actually stopped doing anything on my hands and knees right about the 8 month mark. For the Third Trimester I have included 3 ab exercises that will keep you safe and help prepare you for childbirth.

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1)Pelvic Tilts (You can do this inclined, sitting, or standing.  The motion is the same!

This exercise will loosen your hips and lower back while working your inner most abs - something that will come in handy for childbirth and recovery.  Sitting with your back against the back of the chair, turn your hips up toward your head, which will make your back flatten out against the chair. Return back to neutral, where you may have a small space between the small of your back and the chair (that's perfectly natural). Tilt your hips toward your feet, which creates a larger gap than in neutral. Repeat for 20 times of each.

2) Side Plank (Left and Right)

This exercise will work your obliques and help close the gap from diastasis recti.  Starting on your side, come up onto your elbow. Your feet should be staggered. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

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3) Standing Side Crunch

This exercise will also work your obliques.  Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, touch your right elbow to your right knee. Alternate sides for 20 on each side.

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth Trimester: After Birth and Recovery

My body frame was small and my stomach grew pretty large by the end of my pregnancy, so my diastasis recti ended up being about 2-3 inches all the way up and down my stomach. From this (and having to recover in awkward positions with a newborn), I had pelvic pain and lower back pain to go along with it. I knew my body well, so I began doing a few simple exercises before my 6 week appointment. I started about a week after birth when my body started feeling better. Talk to your doctor about what you are allowed to do immediately after birth. I would suggest waiting until you and your doctor have a plan before doing any type of physical activity. These 3 exercises will be good for whenever you do start getting back into the swing of things.

 

1) Reverse Toe Taps

This will work your lower abs and inner most abs and help repair diastasis recti, pelvic pain, and lower back pain.  Laying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees bent, bring one knee up to 90 degrees. While you do this, your back should stay firm against the ground. Alternate for 10 times on each side to start.

 

 

2) Core Braces

You can do this from any position you'd like. With your back firm, contract your abs to make them hard. Hold for 5 seconds. Release for 1 second. Repeat for 20 times.  This works your inner most abs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Modified Bird-Dog

This works your entire core. Begin on your hands and knees. Lift one arm up to shoulder length while keeping your core tight and back flat. Alternate for 20 on each side.

 

These are just mere options of what you can do while you are pregnant and recovering! Having strong abs will help you have a speedy childbirth and recovery. Remember, always consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine, including abs. And try your best to have fun and enjoy yourself.  Your time is too precious to do anything but.

As always, if you have any questions or would like a more in-depth personalize exercise program, you can contact me at Cr3ation.Fitness@gmail.com

Shredded Chicken and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Let's be real for a moment.  No one wants to spend countless hours slaving away in the kitchen on top of juggling a busy schedule. There are so many better things that can be done! If it takes more than 30 minutes, I often won't even attempt to cook it.  However, this dish only took me 40 minutes to cook.  I did all of the prep work while the quinoa was cooking AND had time to fold 2 loads of laundry, clean the kitchen, and entertain my 7 month old. Some call me superwoman, but it honestly just boils down to the fact that I don't like to waste time (and it always helps that my daughter loves to chase me in her walker while I'm in the kitchen).

During the summers I am always looking for healthy, easy dishes that don't make the house any hotter than it has to be. Of course, it also has to be delicious.  In a quest to use what we had at the house, I managed to make a simple and filling dish that the whole family seemed to love!

Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: yields 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound shredded chicken
  • 1 18oz can diced tomatoes (substitute for fresh tomatoes if you please)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce (I used romaine since we had it in the house)

Directions:

  • Use a medium sized pot to cook the quinoa and follow the directions on the package.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, shred and rinse the lettuce, and rinse and drain the black beans and tomatoes. Combine the three in a large bowl.
  • Cook and shred the chicken while the quinoa is cooling.
  • Add the quinoa and chicken to the bowl.
  • Mix and add seasoning to taste.

You can add to this dish by incorporating lemon juice, which I plan to use the next time I make this. I also think I may incorporate some chickpeas as well!

Regardless, it was very easy to make, it was very time friendly, and it will definitely be seen in our house again!

Any additions you'd like to share? Comment below!