When I was pregnant for the first time, I would get this terrible shooting pain down my leg. I asked my ob at the time what could possibly be causing me such grief and he said it was probably my sciatic nerve. Just typical for pregnancy he told me. And whether it was or not, after I had my beautiful daughter, the pain went away and I forgot about it.
Here we are eight (8!?!?) years later and pregnant again. Only with this pregnancy I decided that I was going to do it a little differently. You see, when I am not pregnant, I exercise Monday through Friday mornings for about 50 minutes to an hour every day. However, when I've been pregnant in the past, I have found it impossible to breathe past about the second month of every pregnancy. Well, not this time I told myself. You are going to push and push and push yourself past that. Your body is older and your recovery will be worse and you need to endure. So, I have been. At about two months it got really hard again, but I just cut back to four days a week until I got past that little breathing issue. And, I have toned down my exercising to about 35-40 minutes. I was on the right track and I was going to keep my muscle while gaining a HUGE belly. Only my right leg never got the memo.
About two months ago I started getting this terrible shooting pain in my right leg when I would lunge. Then it became painful just to lift that leg the tiniest bit when I was showering--you know to wash my ankle or foot. Putting on my capris became a painful experience and sleeping was a nightmare too as I didn't realize how much I turn my body with my legs. And, then I started having my leg be unreliable. I would walk a couple of steps and the pain would be so intense I would almost fall over. What the heck was happening? My body was NOT supposed to work like this. I am not new to exercise, so why was my body not cooperating?
I talked to my current ob and he said, "It's probably your sciatic nerve" (I think they have a book titled that in med school) and he sent me to a chiropractor. Well, apparently it's easiest for chiropractors to figure out what's wrong with you if you lie on your stomach. That wasn't going to happen, so it has taken a little bit of trial and error, but what is the diagnosis to this long, dull story?
My pain has NOTHING to do with my sciatic nerve (by the way your sciatic nerve is actually three different nerves that come together in your lower back and wrap down around your leg which is why it could possibly be hurting during pregnancy). No, my pain was from two different sets of muscles--the adductor and hamstring muscles. The adductor muscles run alongside the interior of your knee and keep your knee from flopping over when you... say LUNGE forward. Your hamstring muscles I'm sure all of you know about if you've done any stretching at all. The story is that those muscles are always tight and being pregnant and attempting to lunge forward exacerbates that condition to unbearable proportions.
The only solution is to drink lots of Sonic limeades and eat chocolate as soon as the kids go to bed. Not so much, but it may work if I gave it a chance. Really though, now when I am supposed to be lunging in my workouts, I do squats. I do LOTS and LOTS and LOTs of squats now. And, of course, like any problem, my movement issues are not completely typical--meaning, I can do side lunges without any problem and that really shouldn't work out, but it does.
So, next time you find yourself pregnant and your leg hurting, don't start pointing the finger at your sciatic--it could be your adductor or maybe your hamstring or perhaps a completely different muscle that you have never heard of before.
It has been really humbling to have to "take it easy" when I really want to push hard and keep this goal to do what I've always done. I feel like I fail in so many other goals and resolutions and this was one that actually seemed doable. I am grateful for my healthy body though. I'm grateful that I am able to still do almost everything I want to do anyway. Life really is about adaptation whether I want to admit to it or not.