Fitness, Science

Should You Exercise During Pregnancy

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I am the proud father of two boys. My wife and I were talking one day about exercising while pregnant, who should, who shouldn’t, why you should, why you shouldn’t, etc.. Our conversation prompted me to write this blog, so thank you, Mighty Mouse, love you!

Research Indicates That Prenatal Exercise Is Not Only Ok;

but recommends that most prenatal women workout. There are many misconceptions about physical activity and pregnancy, among trainers and the general public. For my wife, a big prenatal fitness worry was core strength. She was nervous that she may hurt the baby, or damage her core muscles, which could lead to her ignoring core work altogether. The misconception that core exercise is ineffective during pregnancy causes many women to make the mistake of skipping core training. Skipping core work is a huge NO-NO in your prenatal fitness routine!

So, what exactly is your “core?”

Think of your core, and all the muscles that make up the core, as a support system for your spine. The core consists of your rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, your diaghaphram superior to the muscles, and your pelvic bones inferior to the muscles. The core is much more that your stomach “six pack” musculature. I like to call the core your “trunk,” so that people understand I am speaking about more than the abdominal muscles.

Your Body Changes During Pregnancy, Keep It Healthy

During pregnancy women have a massive forward shifting of weight, duh, there’s a baby in there! As the baby grows, it become more important to maintain the core musculature to help reduce fatigue and pain, and also to help maintain proper spine position. If you lack core strength, you could develop a sway back, more specifically, lordosis– forward tilting of the pelvic bone– which can be very uncomfortable. Lordosis occurs, in this instance, when the baby’s weight causes the pelvic bone to shift forward. Over time, this position can lead to malalignment in the spine. Increasing core strength while you are pregnant will go a long way in returning the pelvis to a neutral position.

Three Safe and Effective Prenatal Core Exercises:

1. Wood Chop – Rotational, Functional strength

  • Hold onto the (dumbbell, ball, band, kettlebell) handle with both hands
  • Create tension in the abdominals
  • Squat down, with weight in heels and spine neutral
  • Stand up and rotate arms out in front of the body, twisting at the ribcage with hips squared and feet facing forward

2. Plank Variations – Lying Prone, Stability

  • Start on knees and hands to begin a prone plank
  • Place hands under chest about shoulder width apart
  • Engage core and lift knees off floor so that you are only in contact with floor on hands and toes
  • Hold for a count of 30-40 seconds; rest and repeat

Note: Regression, stay on your knees while holding the plank until you are comfortable performing the full plank. If you have diastasis recti, be cautious of planks as they could increase the separation distance.

3. Bird Dog   Prone, contralateral stability

  • Positions yourself on the floor down on your hands and knees
  • Engage the abdominals
  • Simultaneously extend one arm in front of you while extending the opposite leg  back, repeat 15-18 times each side.

Note: Regression, perform the arm and leg movements separately.

Now you know at least three exercises that are core specific, and safe for most pregnant women. Remember, there’s more to the core than just your abs!

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