During pregnancy, your body will require more effort to do the everyday tasks as the strains on your joints and muscles both increases and changes as the pregnancy progresses.
After training many women during pregnancy over the last 13 years, I have come up with the top 5 pilates exercises to get you through pregnancy and beyond:
1) Hip Extension on all fours
This exercise aims to strengthen your major buttock muscles, the Gluteus Maximus, which is important to help prevent or at least manage pelvic instability, the most common problem I see during pregnancy.
Come onto all fours. Lift your leg straight out into the air and hold for 3 sec, then lower leg back down. Repeat 8 times on each side. Do this exercise at least twice a week.
Quadriceps (the muscles at the front of the thighs) are extremely important muscles for getting up and down off a chair, in and out of the car or even walking up and down the hill.
Stand with your back to the wall, with your feet out away from the wall about 30 centimetres. Lower your body down, until your knees are bent to about 45 degrees, keeping your back against the wall. Hold for 5 seconds and then return up. Repeat 8 times – 10 times at least twice a week.
3) Calf strength
The calf muscles are important for walking and reducing foot pain, but as your normal blood fluid volume increases during pregnancy, you need good calf strength to help pump back blood towards your heart and prevent swelling in the feet.
Stand up next to the wall, hands up against the wall for balance. Lift your heels up off the ground to come up onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds, then lower the heels down. Repeat 8-10 times and at least twice a week.
4) Push-ups against the wall
Arm strength is just as important as you will be using your arm strength to lift everything during pregnancy and after the baby is born. It is easy to underestimate how much you use your arms in everyday activities and neglecting arm strength will cause you pain over time.
Stand with your hands on the wall just below shoulder height. Hold your shoulder blade back and up a little bit. This activates the major stabilisers of the shoulders, the upper trapezius muscles. Lower yourself down towards the wall, using the elbows only. Hold for 3 secs, then rise back up again. Repeat 8-10 times at least twice a week.
5) Core stability in 4 point kneel
The aim of this exercise is to improve the activation of the major stabilisers of the lower back, the multifidus muscle, without putting you in a compromising position that can affect your blood pressure later during your pregnancy when lying on your back.
Come onto all fours again. Make a small arch in the back and squeeze your lower back muscles together. (This will activate the multifidus muscle). Keeping this muscle contracted, lift one arm up, hold for 3 seconds, then lower the arm down. Repeat this 8 times on each side at least twice a week.
Performing these 5 simple pilates exercises during your pregnancy should make your pregnancy a little bit easier and more comfortable.
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