Foam rolling and pregnancy: How this tool can relieve common prenatal aches and pains

If you already incorporate foam rolling into your fitness routine, keep doing it! (If you’re a newbie, talk to your healthcare provider first.) Keep reading to find out the benefits and considerations of foam rolling during pregnancy.

First, what is foam rolling? Foam rolling is a type of self-myofascial release in which pressure is applied to certain body parts to relieve pain. At a base level, foam rolling increases circulation, which oxygenates the muscles. The fluid that is transferred through the motion brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which is ideal during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Foam Rolling Considerations

  1. Positioning: Most foam rolling is body weight compression, and you need to be mindful of this at certain stages. For example, later on in pregnancy, some women experience lower back pain, so in the third trimester it is recommend to modify that move and lean up against a wall to reduce how the fetus compresses on the spine.
  2. Intensity: Some women may train regularly during pregnancy, but they may not necessarily want to try to go into a deep tissue version of foam rolling to match their training.
  3. Intention: Consider your goal. Are you using foam rolling because you enjoy how it feels for that relaxation benefit? Or are you using foam rolling because you feel tight and you need to stretch? Be mindful of this, especially in the third trimester. Your goal at that point is not to try to increase mobility, but instead, to focus on relaxation and circulation.

Areas to Avoid

  1. Inner points of calf muscle and the adductor. Both of these points have been known to induce contractions, so as a general rule of thumb, especially in the third trimester, avoid those two areas.
  2. Deep rolling on the foot. There are pressure points here also associated with inducing labor. However, light rolling can be beneficial especially if there are circulation issues due to added weight on the femoral artery.

Try these at home

Thoracic Spine Stretch on Core Roller

Place your hands behind your head to support your neck, and place the roller just below your shoulder blades. As you exhale, slowly lower your head and shoulders so that you extend over the roller. Focus on not letting your bottom ribs pop up, and keeping the stretch to the upper back.

Quads with Core Roller

Begin by setting up on a flat surface. Place the Core Roller on your quadriceps, and rest your forearms on the ground. The leg not being rolled should be positioned comfortably out to the side. Slowly begin to roll your body up or down the Core Roller. Stop on tender spots and hold for at least 30 seconds. Then, add a stretch to the muscle by performing four knee bends. Repeat with the other leg. If less pressure is desired, you can perform this on both legs at the same time.

About the author:
FitBump founder Kira Kohrherr, is an AFAA certified and ACE pre/postnatal certified personal trainer. With over 15 years experience, she works with moms to maintain fit, healthy pregnancies. A 21X Half-Marathoner and 4X Marathoner, Kira became a first-time mom to son Rhys in August 2016.

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