What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?
During pregnancy the body undergoes significant transformations including postural changes, hormone fluctuations, weight gain, enlarged breasts and shifting of organs, which can cause aches and pains.
Pregnancy massage is a safe, drug-free, way to minimise and relieve common discomforts and is a popular alternative for pain relief at a time when medications are often limited.
Here we look at the most common pregnancy-related conditions and how massage can help alleviate these.
Low Back Pain/ Sciatica
This is one of the most common pregnancy-related complaints with up to 50% of women experiencing this during their pregnancy. Changes in body posture during pregnancy alters the centre of gravity which can cause compression of the sciatic nerve leading to pain in the lower back and into the legs. Massage can help to release the pressure on the nerve and increase the range of motion and elasticity in muscles and joints.
Changes in body posture during pregnancy alters the way in which muscles are used, which can increase the stain and load placed on them causing aches and pains. Massage helps to relieve these aches by increasing the circulation to the muscles, stimulating repair and relaxation.
Although the reasons for leg cramps during pregnancy are not fully understood, it is thought that the increased load on the muscles, low levels of certain minerals, and sitting or lying for longer periods of time are linked to muscle cramps. Massage stimulates the blood flow and stretches the muscles which can be beneficial for relieving and preventing cramps.
Upper Back pain
The main cause of upper back pain during pregnancy is thought to be due to the sudden increase in breast size leading to muscle imbalance. Massage relieves muscle tension, stretches muscles and release trigger points in the neck shoulder and upper back.
Hormones, Stress and headaches
The changes in hormones during pregnancy are responsible for many of the physical and emotional changes a mother experiences.
As a mother approaches her due date hormonal changes causes the musculoskeletal system to loosen in order to create the flexibility necessary in the joints for birth. Many expectant mothers frequently experience an increase in stress and anxiety levels in part due to hormonal changes and headaches are also thought to be linked to a surge of hormones.
Massage assists in lowering stress hormones which will help to reduce anxiety, improves mood and sleep. Massage causes a release of endorphins and serotonin which are known as natural pain relieving hormones.
Swelling often occurs during pregnancy due to decreased circulation and an increase of pressure on blood vessels. Massage of soft tissue helps to reduce fluid collection in swollen joints and improves assists in the removal of waste products by the lymphatic system. By encouraging blood flow into the legs, massage can reduce the chances of swelling, varicose veins and blood clots.