By Melissa Baudo Marchetti
Calling all moms!
Have you recently had a baby, or still struggling with post baby pain and weakness? Pregnancy places high demand on the musculoskeletal system and can be very traumatic for some women leaving them with myofascial pain, internal pelvic pain, nerve pain, diastasis recti (a gapping in the abdominal muscles), weakness in the core from a C-section, neck and shoulder pain from holding your newborn baby, and much more.
In December, after a five-year journey to motherhood with four miscarriages along the way, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. During my pregnancy, I was very cautious with my body so I didn’t do the typical exercise and self-care that I was used to. So, as the baby started to grow, I dealt with low back pain, severe right hip pain and nerve pain that went down my right leg. Since giving birth, a lot of that pain persisted with the constant bending, lifting and holding the baby. In my attempt to get outside and to burn some calories to help lose some baby weight and firm up those mushy muscles, I started walking in my neighborhood for one hour a day. Well, all my professional training as a Physical Therapist (PT) went out the window…I didn’t warm up or cool down with stretching like I tell all my patients and my foam roller was getting dusty…I just went out walking my hilly neighborhood pushing a stroller and a baby and BAM…I had heel pain. The dreaded Plantar Fasciitis. I woke up one morning, put my left foot down as I got out of bed and could barely stand on my heel. I limped around for days self-treating with stretching, massage and ice, which helped only a little. So, I knew it was time to take action.
I sought help from my fellow PTs at One on One Physical Therapy. As many of you know, Physical Therapy has evolved so much in the last two decades. Gone are the days of just watching someone do a series of exercises they can do at home and counting off the repetitions. Physical Therapists are trained in advanced skills like Trigger point Dry Needling to treat musculoskeletal pain. Muscles can develop knots that are referred to as myofascial trigger points, which are ropelike, hard and painful to touch. Trigger points cause muscles to tighten and stiffen, limit mobility and function and cause pain locally and in surrounding areas. Dry needling is used to deactivate these painful trigger points, ultimately “resetting” the system to restore normal movement. A solid, thin filament needle is inserted into the painful, knotted muscle, which elicits a local muscle contraction that allows the muscle to relax, decreases pain and resets the muscle to its normal strength and function. The microtrauma from the needle stimulates a healing response, increasing blood flow in the painful tissue. Dry Needling, while a little uncomfortable, is highly effective and can rid the body of pain in as little as one treatment.
Physical Therapists are also trained in various methods of manual therapy such as spinal mobilization and soft tissue mobilization, which compliment the dry needling to restore normal joint and tissue mobility so you can move pain-free again. Some PTs specialize in women’s health, focusing on prenatal and postpartum care, treating pelvic pain, incontinence, diastasis recti and pelvic floor weakness, which all can occur due to pregnancy.
Physical Therapists also specialize in exercise prescription, functional movement and proper breathing mechanics. With pregnancy, a high load and pressure is placed on the diaphragm and rib cage, which is paramount in achieving optimal core stability and strength and minimizing back, hip and pelvic pain.
So, I had now become the patient. I had one of my colleagues at One on One PT perform dry needling to my back and leg, which helped dramatically. Literally, the next morning I was able to put weight on my foot again. My PT instructed me on some specific stretching and advised me to roll out my legs with a tennis or racquetball or foam roller, which I did when my son was napping. Two days later, I had a full body massage with one of our amazing massage therapists at the clinic. For the weakness that I was feeling in my core from the C-section, I was instructed on some simple exercises that involved breathing coordinated with pelvic and abdominal muscle activation as well as gentle stretching for my hips and back. I restarted my 20-30 minute Pilates routine that I had been doing during my pregnancy and within days I was on the road to recovery…minimal to no heel or back pain, more mobility and flexibility, and feeling stronger. I was able to get back on the road walking and jogging pushing that stroller and feeling more like myself again!
Whatever you are struggling with post baby, even if your children are now grown, PTs are here to help you! We are experts in musculoskeletal and myofascial pain as well as prenatal and postpartum care. We incorporate a comprehensive and functional approach to get you pain-free and restore your normal movement. So, before you take those anti-inflammatory medications or just think you have to deal with the pains you are feeling, contact us at One on One PT (www.onetherapy.com)! Motherhood is hard enough, so let us help you get your body back so you feel great again!
Dr. Baudo Marchetti is a Board Certified Sports Clinical Specialist at One on One Physical Therapy, a multidisciplinary private practice in Atlanta. She teaches a Sports Physical Therapy course and assists in teaching orthopedics within the Division of Physical Therapy at Emory University. She has a whole new perspective on postpartum care after the birth of her son. Learn more by visiting www.onetherapy.com or email Dr. Baudo Marchetti at Melissa@onetherapy.com or call 770-500-3848.