Experiencing a sharp/shooting pain “down there” during pregnancy? If it occurs during the third trimester, you may be experiencing something called lightning crotch. Lightning crotch pain typically occurs when the baby begins to descend into the pelvis, certain movements or positions the baby settles into may press on the pudendal nerve. This can cause a sudden sharp pelvic pain down into the genitals.
Symptoms of Lightning Crotch Include:
- Shooting or sharp pain, numbness/tingling or burning in the groin, labia, vagina or clitoris. Often this is described as an electric shock feeling in the pelvic region
- Lasting <1 min
- If symptoms last >1 min, occur regularly in a cyclical manner or are associated with abdominal cramping seek guidance from your medical provider.
Regular exercise or movement and the use of a support belt can help decompress the nerves in the pelvis and reduce the intensity and frequency of lightning crotch.
At Onward Physical Therapy, we prescribe movement as medicine for most musculoskeletal dysfunction which is one of the best ways to reduce symptoms of lightening crotch.
3 Strategies to Reduce Lightning Crotch During Pregnancy
Pelvic floor relaxation and strengthening to support the growing uterus
Pelvic floor strength is more than just the Kegel. It is crucial that your pelvic floor can contract/shorten AND relax/lengthen.
How to relax pelvic floor:
Begin lying on your back with your knees bent. Take 2 deep diaphragmatic breaths; inhaling through your nose and allowing belly to expand; exhaling through pursed lips allowing belly to recoil to natural resting length. On the 3rd inhale allow pelvic floor elongation by imagining a flower blooming through your sit bones or an umbrella sitting in the pelvic bowl expanding on inhale and recoil to natural resting length upon exhale. Focus on relaxing upon inhale. Perform 2-3 repetitions.
How to contract the pelvic floor:
First, let’s start with the core, the pelvic floor and core need to work together to support the pelvis during pregnancy. Add on to the pelvic floor relaxation above. Now, with the exhale draw side body to spine as if you were sintching up a corsette. Do not allow your ribs to flare up as you exhale, try to knit ribs to hip bones. Perform 2-3 repetitions
Finally, let’s add in the pelvic floor:
Inhale and allow for a deep belly and side body to expand, bloom through your sit bones. Initiate the exhale with core activation and finish with kegel, drawing Pelvic Floor UP and IN.
Perform 4 repetitions and try each of the following cues with an exhale 1) Nod clitoris toward tailbone 2) stop the flow of urine 3) suck a thick smooth through a straw up your vagina 4) hold back gas / wink anus
Core exercises to support baby
The core is more than just the transverse abdominis and a strong core is essential for being a mom. Below are some of our favorite core exercises to do during pregnancy.
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Adductor exercises to support the pelvis.
An often overlooked and under strengthened muscle group, particularly during pregnancy – the adductors or inner thigh muscles. These muscles share an attachment point on the pelvis with the pelvic floor. The stronger these muscles are, the less work your pelvic floor may have to do to support baby. The modified copenhagen plank is our favorite way to load these muscles up.
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If you are continuing to experience lightning crotch pain or worry that you lack the knowledge to safely progress, please know that a pelvic floor physical therapist can help. Additional treatments that are useful during this time in your pregnancy include an internal assessment, manual work, education on self-internal release with a pelvic wand, spinal manipulation/mobilization, dry needling, and cupping.
Have additional questions or are interested in having an Onward Physical Therapist join you on your pregnancy journey? Schedule an appointment or free phone consultation to discuss your options today!