Physical therapy helps new moms stretch through and after pregnancy

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Physical therapy and special exercises can help alleviate back pain during pregnancy.

Exercising your new body: A guide to proper stretching and exercising for new moms

6 - 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 12

Valley West Medical Office Building

1310 N. Main St.

Sandwich, Ill. 60548

Free

Register online at http://bit.ly/O5pms8

Or call 815.786.3962

Physical therapy is well-known for its benefits after a stroke or a joint replacement. But did you know today's physical therapists also can help expectant and new moms with the physical challenges that women face during pregnancy and the post-partum period?

"We're here to let women know they don't have to suffer if they are experiencing severe back pain or incontinence. We can help with a whole range of issues for both complicated and routine pregnancies," said Jeannine Knickerbocker, DPT, Valley West Community Hospital.

She will be offering "Exercising Your New Body: A Guide to Proper Stretching and Exercising for New Moms" to let women know what physical therapy can offer them during a program Nov. 12 at the Valley West Medical Office Building.

In this first Valley West session on the topic, Knickerbocker said she wants to emphasize that if a woman is active pre-pregnancy, she should continue her exercise routines during the pregnancy with her doctor's approval.

"As long as she is paying attention to any signals her body is sending that her activities are too taxing, she should continue them,'' she said. "But this is not the time to take up an entirely new sport, such as running."

Physical therapy aims to keep women as comfortable as possible while the body is going through tremendous changes.

"I want women to know that they don't have to accept that things like incontinence are an unavoidable consequence of having a baby," she said. "That just isn't the case."

Therapists can work with women on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles to improve continence issues. They also can offer conservative, non-drug therapy for low back pain, which is a common complaint during pregnancy. "We can give them options they may not know about," she said.

She said she also gets referrals for patients who find they develop carpal tunnel syndrome while pregnant because of the increase in body fluids that occurs with pregnancy. "Hopefully an issue like that will resolve itself after the baby is born, but in the meantime we can help patients with stretches and wrist braces to minimize the pain."

During the program, Knickerbocker will lead women in some stretches and simple exercises they can do without supervision that can help ease their unpleasant symptoms. Proper lifting techniques to minimize the risk of injury at this time also will be explored.

She emphasized that although patients need a physician referral to seek physical therapy, the referral can come from any type of physician, including a primary care doctor. "I have talked to women who have lived with incontinence issues for years after a delivery, but never brought it up to their primary doctors," Knickerbocker said. "I want women to know that there is help out there."

The free presentation will include a question-and-answer session as well as handouts illustrating the guidelines and exercises she will demonstrate. In addition, a nurse educator representative from Valley West's Maternity Suites will be on hand to answer questions about the hospital's services.