We women hear this word a lot. Work-life balance, balancing kids and career, life is a balancing act, etc.
All of these internal and external pressures of life can create noise that keeps us from listening to our bodies. Pregnancy and the physical demands of motherhood can bring our structure and movement patterns out of balance. If you have children, think back to when your kids were little. What side did you carry them on? Probably your non-dominant side, right? Life is busy so you needed to keep carrying or lifting or cooking or cleaning with your other hand. Maybe you notice now standing at the counter you still shift your weight to that one side. I still catch myself doing that, and my kids are 6 and 8!
During pregnancy, our bodies change a lot. We hear about ligament laxity, weight fluctuations, and of course those hormones. Did you know there are also changes in how our muscles work? The structural changes of hips widening and tucking our tailbone causes our glutes to turn off. Basically, the brain-muscle message loop is disrupted because it isn’t in its ideal length or position to work. I hear from female patients all the time “I can’t fire my glutes”. These muscles are designed to be the powerhouse muscles - for squatting, running, getting up from a chair, keeping you standing for hours at a time. When they’re inhibited and your body can’t use them to the best of their ability, your brain finds a new strategy to get the task accomplished. The hip flexors, back muscles, and piriformis are a few examples of muscles that get overused as an alternative strategy. Sometimes the new strategies work for a while until something breaks down. Research shows these changes can cause issues as many as 8 years later!
Physical therapy can help you sort out these imbalances and teach you better ways to move. My job is to find where something went wrong (muscle? Joint? Posture? All of the above??), utilize my skills as a manual therapist to start guiding the healing process, and teach you better ways of moving that will help your body, not hurt it. It’s not about giving you a set of exercises. It’s 1:1 dedicated time to teach you how to use your body better.
Jill Heath is a licensed physical therapist and owner of She PT, LLC. She received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy and B.S. in Exercise Science from Northern Arizona University. During years of practice helping individuals of all ages recover from a variety of conditions, she developed a passion for working with women. She opened She PT, LLC with the purpose of meeting not only the unique physical needs of women, but also empowering women to take charge of their well-being by making care accessible.