Wake up, sleepyhead! Your slouched spine needs to rise and shine. An alert and upright spine is a strong spine–and a strong spine helps you avoid disc damage and other spine-affecting diseases that can lead to sciatica during pregnancy. The sun, with its vitamin D-boosting abilities, is an energy source for your body that can not only help you achieve this straight spine but also bulk up it up along with your other bones. With 80 to 90% of our vitamin D supply coming from our exposure to the sun, going out into the sunshine may be just the solution to energize and revitalize your skeletal system–and avoid sciatica during your pregnancy. Sciatica and vitamin D–what a dynamic duo!
Pump up Your Posture: How our Bodies React to the Sun
The best way to envision your body’s reaction to the big, bright sun is to picture a sunflower, those tall plants whose giant yellow flower heads atop move with and stretch towards the sun to absorb the most of its yellow power. Exposed to the sun, your sleepy spine will perk right up, alert and awake. This is because the sun has a straightening affect on your body, coaxing it to stand up straighter and adjusting your posture so that you do not end up a wilted body.
So, do not close those blinds or shrug off the mid-afternoon walk before or during your pregnancy–take advantage of the daylight hours and let your spine reach for the sun.
The Sun Boosts Vitamin D Production
When the sun’s ultraviolent B rays strike the skin, it initiates a reaction that allows skin cells to produce vitamin D. The body, especially the prenatal body, requires vitamin D, as it helps strengthen bones. When the body does not have adequate levels of this nutrient, the spinal column as well as the bones in the pelvic region are more prone to breakage and damage–two things that put one at a higher risk of sciatica during pregnancy. A vitamin D deficiency is also a common marker of many diseases, including:
- Osteogenesis imperfecta
Playing a large role in the skeletal system, vitamin D can strengthen bones by helping against bone pain, bone loss, and brittle and easily broken bones–factors in the above disease, many of which are also linked to a higher risk of encountering sciatica during pregnancy. With pregnancy hormones already shifting and loosening you bones, making them more vulnerable to damage, it is important to strengthen your spine and other bone prior to your pregnancy, meaning you need to jack up your time spent in the sun.
Get Enough Sun, Get Enough Vitamin D
Because a majority of our vitamin D supply relies on our skin coming into contact with the sun, it is important that women preparing for pregnancy receive direct sunlight daily. However, in the winter months, the sun in the Northern hemisphere does not reach a high enough point in the sky for its UV-B rays to penetrate the atmosphere and reach our skin. Luckily, we can also increase our vitamin D intake through supplements or foods such as fish and fortified daily products.
But let’s take a look at how to capitalize on the natural way to get this vitamin:
Just 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen should get the job done for fair-skinned individuals, so get in and get out before that sunburn starts to form. Because darker skin pigments protect against the sun better, you will need to spend a larger amount of time in the sun. Make sure to wear a tank top and shorts to increase the amount of skin exposed to the rays of the sun and slather on the sunscreen if you stay out longer.
Not only will increased sun exposure help your posture and bone strength but it will also increase your outdoor activity, as exercise is another way to improve the health of your spine and decrease your risk of sciatica during pregnancy.