I often have ladies come to my pregnancy class as they want to carry on exercising but are unsure what they can do or what they should avoid.
Generally, YES do carry on exercising but change it a little from what you had been doing, stay hydrated & try and carry on throughout your pregnancy as long as you have no serious conditions and have been advised by your Dr not to.
Exercising and keeping fit in your pregnancy is actually really important – you are about to have one of your longest ‘races’ ever – giving birth can be over 48 hours!
So in the next few blogs I am going to look at a few truths & myths for those in pregnancy and those in the 4th trimester – ie in the early days post giving birth:
Myth – It’s best not to do too much exercise when pregnant as it could cause a miscarriage…
There has been so much research into the benefits of exercising in pregnancy for cardio & muscular strength. I do say to try and take it down in the 1st 12 weeks of pregnancy as this is the time women are more prone to miscarriage – but there is no proof that miscarriage is due to exercising.
The most important thing is to exercise to MAINTAIN fitness NOT to try to improve fitness. Listen to your body & stay hydrated – even when swimming. If you don’t feel well, start bleeding or feel dizzy then stop and get it checked out.
Myth – if I get pelvic girdle pain (PGP or SPD) its best to stop glutes & abs exercises…
PGP can affect anyone in pregnancy and generally occurs towards the end of the 2nd and into 3rd trimester. Basically, with the increase in weight from both the baby, body fluid retention and bio-mechanical changes in your body – more weight and load in the front of your body – it can put more pressure onto your pelvis.
So many different muscles lead into the pubic bone area (symphasis pubis) – your glutes, abs and adductors (inner thighs), so if you are quite weak in these muscles the pelvic floor will go into overdrive to hold everything together.
This then causes more tension and tightness in the muscles which keeps the pain going.
What then can we do to try and help relieve the PGP pain? ……
1st we need to try and calm the pelvic floor over activity down and focus on relaxed breathing and NOT engaging the pelvic floor. You could look into getting a support belt to take some of the weight off the hips (have a look at the Serola support belt https://www.appliedbiomechanics.co.uk/pages/backpain_in_pregnancy.html)
2nd we can try and Strengthen glutes – main glute max & your smaller glute medius – ideally with both feet on the ground (as PGP does not like 1 leg work) so try:
- Squats with a mini band around your knees – breath on the way down, then as you come up exhale and make sure you are pushing out against the band – do 15 – 20
- Seated hinged hip Abductions – seated on chair or bench with mini band around knees. Lean forward with straight back, shoulders over hips. Then open and close your knees, try and keep feet grounded if you can. Also avoid holding the breath, try and exhale as you push your knees open. Do 20 – 30
- Deadlift – stand on a band. From the hips lean forwards, keep chest up and let arms hang. As you come back up straight push through your feet and feel like you are pushing your bum backwards. Exhale as you come up. Do 10 – 12
- Bridge – depending on how you feel & how pregnant you are & so long as you don’t feel dizzy when on your back. Get onto the floor carefully – down on your side then roll onto your back. Then exhale and push through your grounded feet and squeeze your bum as you come up. Do 12-15 (importantly – roll to your side to get back up again and avoid holding the breath)
Finally – strengthen your abdominal muscles. This DOES NOT mean do sit ups or planks – these will make your abs worse and in the long run could cause you to overstretch the midline – Linear Alba & due to the intra-abdominal pressure create more pressure on the pelvic floor.
- Really focus on your exhale breath – a deep, hearty exhale and focus on your lower tummy engagement
- Stand with a band around your back and as you exhale if you can go onto tiptoes and press the band out in front of you.
- Sitting on a bench/chair – exhale and lift 1 knee up, foot off the floor
- Stand facing a wall, 1 hand against it and as you exhale you push your body into the wall – it is NOT a press up – focus on the deep exhale and engage your tummy. Do 8 – 10 each hand
These are just a few ‘Myths & Truths’ for now, so watch this space and I will continue with some other pregnancy blogs.
IF you want me to cover anything specific then PLEASE email me, get in touch and I will do my best to answer your questions in the blogs!