The 5 Best Exercises to do During Pregnancy
from Women’s Health Physiotherapist Becky Dyer and Pilates Instructor Jackie Steele
Founders of the online Pilates based Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Program Body Beyond Birth
Staying fit and active during your pregnancy can be a challenge, especially if you’re experiencing discomfort. We’ve outlined five of our favourite safe exercises that you can to support your pelvic floor, abdominal, legs, and back muscles.
1. PELVIC FLOOR/KEGEL EXERCISES
Even though your pelvic floor is working harder than usual to tote that bowling ball (aka baby) around, you still need to keep it trained up to have it bounce back quickly after delivering your baby. A strong pelvic floor staves off bladder leakage and prolapse of your pelvic organs (um, yes this is when your bits start to peak out of your bot.)
HOW TO: In sitting or standing, squeeze lift and hold your pelvic floor up as if you don't want to pee or pass wind. Once you’ve got that squeeze on, breath normally and make sure you are not bearing down or breath holding. The recipe is to hold for 5-10 seconds, do 10 reps 1x daily. Find your personal best for the length of time you can hold and that’s where you start.
2. CORE ABDOMINAL SQUEEZES
Your abs are getting stretched out the wazoo so you need to keep them strong at every length they're stretched to during this pregnancy in order to have them spring back after delivery.
HOW TO: Get onto your hands and knees either on the floor or on the bed. Hands beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips and get your spine in a neutral position and stay long through the back of your neck. Maintain this beautiful set-up and then let that belly hang, I mean TOTALLY relax. Inhale to prepare then on the exhale turn on that pelvic floor again (the pelvic floor is the floor of the core!) and gently draw your navel toward your spine, hugging your baby. Once again, keep your squeeze on whilst breathing normally. Hold for 5-10 seconds x 10 reps 1-2x daily. Find your personal best for the length of time you can hold and that’s where you start.
3. PEC STRETCH
Ahhh, you’ll love us for this one! This REALLY helps your posture and if you're having upper back gripes and groans, it takes the stress off your upper traps and mid back.
HOW TO: Find a doorway and place your arms at 90/90 by resting your forearms against the door frame. Step one foot forward and use your legs to control the stretch that you'll feel in your pecs/chest while arms stay relaxed with shoulder blades down and back. Hold 30-60 seconds x repeat 2-3 x daily.
4. SNOW ANGELS
Fighting the gravity pull of a baby on board can really wreck your posture and put strain on your mid back. The previous pec stretch helps the front but now it’s time to bring it all together by strengthening the back. This exercise is THE ticket for fabulous posture ladies!
HOW TO: Stand against a wall with your heels, butt, mid back, and head touching the wall. Place your arms at 90/90 like a “stick ‘em up” pose with elbows and wrists touching the wall. Keeping all of those bits touching the wall and elbows flexed at 90 degrees, SLOWLY bring your hands together to touch over your head then return to start. (Keep your shoulders down and back throughout the exercise - this is a real challenge as your hands touch over your head.) Trust me, it’s HARD to do this exercise right. Only need 10-15 reps 1 x daily on this baby.
5. BOOTY SQUAT
Having a strong butt and legs is important for taking the heat off of your back muscles and for keeping your pelvis strong and stable during pregnancy.
HOW TO: Stand with feet at hip width apart, engage your core abdominal muscles by turning on your pelvic floor and gently hugging your baby with your abs. Raise your arms to shoulder height as you squat. Knees stay behind toes! On the way back up keep your core on and focus on squeezing your gluts to return to standing. REALLY make sure you're feeling it in the backyard not just your quads by engaging that booty. 20 reps 1 x daily.
For more great pre and postnatal exercises head to www.bodybeyondbirth.com
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