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How to Support Joint Health During Pregnancy

Jun 20, 2024
How to Support Joint Health During Pregnancy
Most would agree that pregnancy includes a long list of new things to learn. Adding joint health to your research may seem like a step too far. But what if the benefits of supporting joint health during pregnancy are well worth the effort?   

From the extra weight you carry to hormonal shifts to emotional stress that can tighten muscles, tendons, and ligaments, natural changes during pregnancy can strain vulnerable joints. This is especially true for weight-bearing joints, including those in the lower back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Our board-certified orthopedists at Integrity Spine & Orthopedics in Jacksonville, Florida, excel at diagnosing and treating arthritis, injuries, and other painful conditions that affect joints.

We’re also committed to helping you prevent joint damage whenever possible through healthy, joint-friendly habits that nourish and protect rather than stress your joints, even during pregnancy.

Understanding the impact of pregnancy on joints

During pregnancy, your body undergoes significant changes to support the growth and development of your baby.

For instance, hormonal fluctuations, such as increased levels of the reproductive hormone relaxin, help loosen ligaments and joints, making it possible for your body to stretch and accommodate your pregnancy. It also loosens joints and ligaments in the pelvis to prepare for childbirth.

This is a natural and necessary process that you may not even notice. However, it can also affect joints as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support them loosen and become more susceptible to strain and injury.

Additionally, as your baby grows, so does the weight you carry. This added pressure can exacerbate joint pain, particularly in weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, and ankles. As a result, many pregnant individuals experience discomfort or stiffness in these areas, especially as they progress through each trimester.

Fortunately, you can develop a few healthy habits that help protect your joints during pregnancy and beyond.

How to support joint health during pregnancy

Our team at Integrity Spine & Orthopedics recommends trying these tips to protect your joints during pregnancy:

Stay active

Regular, low-impact exercise can help strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints and improve flexibility. Activities like swimming, prenatal yoga, and walking are gentle on the joints while providing numerous health benefits for you and your baby.

Maintain a healthy weight

While weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy, maintaining a healthy weight, as per your OB/GYN’s guidance, can help alleviate strain on your joints. Focus on consuming a balanced, nutrient-rich diet while avoiding excessive calorie intake.

Practice good posture

As your baby bump grows, paying attention to your posture is essential to reduce stress on your joints, especially your back. Practice proper alignment when sitting, standing, and sleeping to minimize discomfort and maintain optimal joint health.

Use supportive footwear

Invest in comfortable, supportive footwear to cushion your feet and provide stability. Choose shoes with adequate arch support, a wide toe box, and cushioning to help distribute your body weight evenly and reduce pressure on your joints.

Consider prenatal massage and physical therapy

Prenatal massage and physical therapy techniques tailored to pregnancy can help alleviate joint pain and stiffness. Check with your OB/GYN first and consult a qualified therapist to explore safe and effective options for your needs.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential for maintaining joint health, as dehydration can exacerbate stiffness and discomfort. Aim to stay well hydrated throughout the day to support proper joint function and overall well-being.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to your body's signals and adjust your activities accordingly. If you experience pain or discomfort, take breaks to avoid overexertion. Honor your body's needs and prioritize rest when necessary.

Taking proactive steps to support joint health during pregnancy can contribute to a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for you and your baby.

Schedule a visit at Integrity Spine & Orthopedics for assistance in all your orthopedic needs, including joint health during pregnancy. Call the office or request an appointment online.