For a lot of people, the natural response to pain is to stop moving. But is it true? If you don’t move, it can’t hurt? Not when it comes to sciatic pain during pregnancy. The magical advice, “Stay still!” as a fix-all does not apply when you are trying to relieve the symptoms of sciatica–in fact it is lying still and remaining stationary that aggravates sciatic nerve pain. Bed rest for sciatica is not a great idea!
Debunking the Myth: Why Bed Rest for Sciatica is Not the Fix
Sciatic pain is influenced a lot by the health of your musculoskeletal system. With decreased physical activity, muscles become stiffer and less durable and flexible from lack of use; weak muscles can lead to damage and damage could cause sciatic pain. These ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle are only increased when you are put on bed rest, as your physical movement plunges to the point of relative immobility. By not stretching your muscles and moving your joints, you are increasing your chances of experiencing sciatic pain.
Sciatica during your pregnancy is a sign to become more active, not to turn on your television and fold away deeper under the covers of your bed. Although moving may be the last thing you want to do, keep in mind that even activities that entail little movement in the short-term, like sitting, can be enough to trigger you pain.
What if I am Put on Bed Rest?
First, talk to your doctor about your concerns. You may learn that there were other factors you were not aware of playing into his decision to suggest bed rest.
The Bed Rest Workout: There are also always small exercises you can do in bed that will get you using your muscles without requiring a lot of movement. Lower body exercises are especially important to not only ward off sciatic pain but also avoid blood clots from forming in the legs. Here’s how to work out in your bed:
- Lifting light weights
- Circular ankle motions
- Bend knees, pull ankles to the body
- Moving both legs in a windshield-wiper motion
- Shoulder and arm exercises with a thick rubber band
And there you have it: exercise and bed rest, contrary to popular belief, can co-exist.