Oh My Aching Back!
A massage during pregnancy is always a welcome gift. Here is a step by step guide to give a massage to anyone. One of the most common complaints of pregnancy is an aching back. Your growing baby pulls your abdomen forward, and unless you work at keeping your stomach tucked in to the extent you can, you’re likely to end up with swayback and some pretty severe or constant back ache. This unnatural curve of a swayback also known as Lordosis, pulls your spine out of line and strains the muscles in your back. Your muscles can respond with painful spasms. Or you can just get back ache in pregnancy that won’t quit until you give birth!
Gate Control Theory of Pain
If you can’t get regular chiropractic visits or visits to an acupuncturist during pregnancy, getting regular massages from your partner or coach can be very soothing. It might not hurt to reciprocate too. This is a great technique for your coach to use during labor. The Gate Control Theory explains why massage during labor is beneficial to the laboring woman. Messages of pain encounter “nerve gates”. Sensations of pleasure travel faster and can prevent messages of pain from from entering thorough the “nerve gates”. So a massage can be not only relaxing to a woman in labor, but can also take away her pain.
Who Doesn’t Love a Massage?
A good massage is welcome anytime, but particularly when pregnancy makes your back hurt. If the pain is severe or persistent, talk to your doctor or midwife about it. In the meantime, lie on your side on a bed, exercise mat, or thickly carpeted floor (use pillows to maintain your positions), or sit on a stool, sit backwards on a chair leaning forward, while a friend or relative follows these steps:
- Lightly stroke the back on either side of (but never on) the spine, working from the shoulders down to the hips and back to the shoulders.
- With your thumbs on either side of the base of the neck, stroke outward and back along the shoulders.
- Stroke down one side of the back using deep pressure with the palm of one hand, followed by a light stroke with the fingers of the other hand. Glide your hands upward and repeat on the other side of the back, ending at the buttocks.
- Rotating your thumbs on either side of the spine, move your hands up the back from the buttocks to the shoulders, then let your hands glide down to the buttocks.
- Knead the buttocks between your fingers and thumb.
- End by repeating step one in the reverse direction.
While giving a massage to a pregnant woman, or to anyone, it helps to keep a constant, soothing rhythm and to keep at least one hand in contact with the back at all times. Use fine powder or slightly warmed oil, cream, rubbing alcohol, or witch hazel to help the hands slide on the skin. Stop part or all of the massage if it hurts. Remember that you are not trying to “get the knots out” you are just providing relaxation and a bit of pain relief with a nice relaxing massage.