I don't like to play favorites, but lately my body has really really been loving this stretch and it's kinda my favorite (shhh...don't tell the others). It's a nice, relaxing but SUPER beneficial stretch. The lateral hip musculature is a grouping of muscles that we rarely use in modern society and they become weak and they also become TIGHT. Add pregnancy to the equation and someone who once didn't appear to have any issues is not feeling pain where there once was none. This doesn't mean that the pain is *because* of pregnancy, but pregnancy is exasperating our *already there* imbalances. The exercise I'll post below is great for you non-preggos too!! I'm just relating it to pregnancy because 1) that's what I like to do and 2) I'm 28 weeks pregnant today.
PS- Holy crap- where did the first 2 trimesters GO?!?! Fourth baby problems...
Here's a picture of the lateral hip musculature
Figure: The deep gluteal (external rotator) muscles on posterior and lateral side of the pelvic and hip area. The superficial muscles gluteus maximus (1) and gluteus medius (2) are excised, to uncover the deep sacrospinosus (3) and sacrotuberalis (4) ligaments and the deep gluteal muscles. (Reproduced from with A. Neumann, Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System – Foundations for Rehabilitation, 2nd edition, Chapter 12 Hip, p. 496, Elsevier (2010), with permission).
Ever heard of people (or maybe it's you) complaining of sciatic pain during pregnancy? Do you see where that lovely sciatic nerve is? Can you imagine what tight lateral hips might do to the sciatic nerve? Here's a picture of the sciatic nerve as related to the piriformis muscle:
Ah- now I see how related they are, no? So it's important to stretch the lateral hips and the piriformis is one of these muscles that needs stretching. It's just interesting to see how the sciatic nerve is related to the piriformis muscle slightly differently in all people. The piriformis attaches the sacrum (which should be mobile via the sacroiliac joint) to the femur. If it is shortened, it's going to cause less mobility of the sacrum.
So- hip pain of any kind? Or even if you don't (why do we always wait until we're in pain, right?). Try out this figure 4 stretch that I filmed on youtube this afternoon. This is also good, like I say in the video, for mobility of the sacrum which will be very helpful for your beautiful birth! Enjoy!
I hope you had a happy holiday and I look forward to lots of awesomeness in 2015 and I hope you do too!! Working on my pain-free pregnancy course and hope to bring it to you SOON SOON SOON!
Mama Aligned is Lindsay McCoy.