Sore Legs During Pregnancy
Your Poor, Sore Legs!
Pregnancy can really put a lot of stress on your legs. As your belly swells and swells, your legs can bear the brunt of all of that weight and can leave you in a lot of discomforts and even some pain. We’re going to cover three different kinds of very common leg pain during pregnancy that aren't dangerous, but can feel really, really awful!
Some people have such loose hips they feel like their legs are just going to fall off; like their joints are really open. This is actually, interestingly, more common in women of Scandinavian descent.
We don't exactly know why this happens, but it’s probably related to your posture during sleep. Which is why it’s always worse at night. You can try sleeping on your side with a bolster to lift the knee to hip height, so your leg is going in straight parallel angles to the bed. You can also put a thin pillow or even just a folded blanket underneath your tummy, just to help take a little bit of pressure off those ligaments that are stretching to hold your belly.
In general, if you are going to be doing any yoga (or other exercises), avoid hip opening postures like butterflies. Because of all that lovely relaxing, you’re very loose and you can easily get yourself overstretched and into more pain. Try strengthening those hip sockets, rather than opening them even more.
A yoga posture that can help you strengthen those hip joints a little bit. Sit with one leg straight and one bent in a half-butterfly position and push the bent knee to the side and use your hand for resistance. And do the same to push the knee up and use your hand to resist. Push the knee down and push to resist, again. You’re giving your leg something to work against.
Sometimes when we can’t avoid the pain in life (which is often), it can help if we just try and see it in a more positive light. So when you are in pain and your hips and legs feel like they’re going to fall out, then just give thanks to your body for an opening for your baby.
If those baby cows are giving you grief, it’s probably due to Vata, the air and space dosha. It’s common in pregnancy because of changes.
There are a few things you can do to prevent it. One of them is to move and avoid sitting with your legs crossed. You want to walk a lot, move a lot, wriggle your toes and keep that circulation going.
And stretch! You really want to stretch those calves out. As a general guide, it’s safe to do Down Dog until 36 weeks, but if you find it uncomfortable, you should stop immediately. As always with yoga, be guided by your own comfort and your own body.
Calf cramps, and cramps, in general, can be due to dehydration. Make sure you’re staying really well hydrated. And sometimes, if water doesn’t feel like enough, you can have some fatty foods as well (like ghee, coconut oil, and maybe some milk). You can put some warm sesame oil on daily, particularly black sesame oil if you can get it.
Once you have a calf cramp give it a good rub, grab it really hard and squeeze it! This usually feels surprisingly good!
You can try using hot packs, cold packs, and a bath with magnesium can really help too.
A Leg Up
Onto number three: Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). This is one that can drive people absolutely bonkers! It’s an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, and it can keep you awake at night. I had a pregnant friend who said that she never felt sleep-deprived after her baby was born because she slept so little during her pregnancy because RLS was so bad.
No one knows why it happens, except it could be genetic. It’s often worse when you stop moving, and it can cause burning and tingling, and it can feel like your legs are crawling. It can be really, really uncomfortable and drive people a little bit insane.
Stretching, moving, massage and hot or cold pack can also help with temporary relief of symptoms. As can having an orgasm - yep you heard me right! Lots of people with RLS have found that oxytocin can really help, not only because it can stop the RLS temporarily, but it can also put you to sleep. So have an orgasm alone or with a partner if that appeals to you!
It’s also a really good opportunity to practice your coping techniques for birth. Breathing, meditation, hypnobirthing; whatever coping techniques you’re hoping to use to get through labour. It’s a really good chance to practice them now.
I hope that today you’ve learnt some ways to sit more comfortably, walk more comfortably and sleep more comfortably. If you enjoyed this article please share it with a friend.