Pilates And Pregnancy

Q: How can Pilates help my back during pregnancy?

During pregnancy abdominal muscles are stretched to over 50% of their original length! If the abdominal muscles are weak, you may develop back or pelvic pain. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can lead to urine loss.
Pilates can help by keeping the abdominal muscles strong to help support the growing body. Pilates also helps women maintain good posture while the center of gravity shifts. This helps alleviate stress on the back!

Q: Are there any exercises to omit during the first trimester?

Throughout your pregnancy it’s important to know what an exercise is intended for and why it’s appropriate for your body. For example, while doing side kicks it is appropriate to feel the top of the leg working. It is not appropriate to feel discomfort in your pubic bone.

Q: Why is Pilates helpful during pregnancy?

Pilates is a great choice during pregnancy because it is a very adaptable method. Exercises can easily be modified to fit your needs. This is ideal for a changing woman’s body.

Q: If I do Pilates workouts while pregnant, will it make my delivery easier? Will strong abdominal muscles make it easier to push out the baby?

This is a very common question!

Having a strong Pilates foundation is helpful during delivery because those who practice PIlates have great awareness and control of their breath. Your Dr or Midwife will give you very specific breathing instructions.

Pilates also helps with stamina.

However, abdominal muscles do not push the baby out! The uterus does! The uterus is an incredible smooth muscle. It is an involuntary muscle, so there is no way to prepare the uterus or strengthen it.

Q: I had a baby 6 months ago and my belly is still flabby. Is this just the price of having a baby? Will Pilates help?

Congrats on the birth of your baby! Remember that for approximatly 40 weeks the skin on your belly was stretching. It will take some time for the skin to regain its elasticity. Be patient! However, there are actions you can take to speed up the process of getting your pre-baby body back. 1.Have you lost all or most of your pregnancy weight? Make sure your diet is in tip top shape. If there are extra pounds to shed, incorporate cardiovascular activity into your schedule. 2. Strengthen your deepest abdominal muscle- the transversus abdominis. This is the muscle responsible for pulling the belly in. Beyond your Pilates workout, continue to work this muscle throughout your day by pulling your belly toward your spine.

Q: I have been doing Pilates for about 10 years. Currently I am 3.5 months pregnant. When I do my hundreds, I get a dull pain below my belly button. Do you know what I should do or what it could be?

You should speak to your Doctor about any pain or discomfort you have throughout your pregnancy.

Here are some other important tips:
1. Make sure that your Pilates instructor has had Pre-natal Pilates training. Preferably recently.
2. After your first trimester, your hundreds should be done with your head down.
3. The focus of the breathing can change during your hundreds while pregnant. Rather than focus on knitting your ribs, focus on opening or expanding your ribs. As your pregnancy progresses, your rectus abdominus and ribs will need to expand, not contract.

Q: Can I do Pilates while trying to get pregnant?

Many studies have shown that the body is more likely to become pregnant when it is not under stress. Pilates workouts have the ability to decrease both physical stress and emotional stress.

In Pilates, there is a focus on alignment and working the body symmetrically. This type of focus has the ability to increase range of motion and allow the body to move with less effort.

Pilates releases stress for people because it forces you to focus on your breath and movement. It is impossible to execute a Pilates workout correctly while thinking about anything else.

Q: Is Pilates safe to do while pregnant?

Pilates is excellent for pregnancy because it strengthens muscles that will support your changing body. Specifically a Pilates workout targets the stomach, back, arms, hips and thighs. Two of the greatest benefits are: 1. the exercises have the ability to help alleviate back pain often associated with pregnancy 2. doing Pilates while pregnant can help your body rebound faster after giving birth. Helping you return to your pre-pregnancy physique!

Not all Pilates instructors are certified to teach pregnant clients. It’s important to ask your instructor about his/her training. Some basic guidelines are:

  • After the second trimester you should avoid lifting the head from a supine position, no roll ups, no series of five with the head lifted, etc. extension or arching the back, (swan exercises), are also contraindicated.
  • Exercise on the back should only be done in short intervals.

-when in doubt- leave it out! If while working out you feel uncomfortable or unsure if the exercise feels Ok, leave it out!

Q: Is it Ok to continue doing crunches while pregnant?

The short answer is no. Crunches are not a good choice of abdominal strengthening exercises while pregnant. To understand why, read on!

During pregnancy the type of flexion necessary to do a crunch, causes pressure on the pelvic floor, which is already taxed from caring the baby around!

The rectus abdominis (commonly known as the 6 pack muscle) is the primary muscle worked while doing crunches or roll ups. The rectus abdominus runs from the ribs to the pelvis. They are two bands of muscles joined by the linea alba. During pregnancy, hormones allow the linea alba to separate, allowing the baby to be carried forward, rather that pushing the baby against the spine- a natural process. Continuing to tighten or work the rectus abdominis during pregnancy could cause the muscles to be strengthened apart. Problems occur when there is too much separation of the rectus abdominis. This can lead to many structural problems in the body and increased discomfort in the back, hips and pelvis.

Smarter abdominal muscles to work are the transverse abdominus and the obliques.

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