E- XERCISES PRE& POST-PREGNANCY
EXERCISE IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP UP A GOOD EXERCISE ROUTINE DURING & AFTER PREGNANCY.
The importance of exercise for optimal health and wellbeing is proven. While it’s imperative that we stay active and fit throughout all stages of life, exercising before and during pregnancy is particularly necessary. While pregnancy is a very exciting and special time, it can pose some challenges, such as back and neck pain, pelvic instability and carpal tunnel syndrome. One reason for this is the release of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy, which makes the ligaments more lax in preparation for childbirth but also makes the spine and joints more vulnerable to injury or aches and pains. To counteract this you need to improve the strength and activation of muscles that support your spine and joints. The main muscle groups that need to be strengthened are the core and pelvic floor, buttock and hip muscles , and the postural muscles. Pelvic floor exercises performed in the postnatal period could help in reducing the risk of postpartum urinary incontinence. Not all exercises are safe to do during pregnancy however. High impact exercises such as running, jumping and boxing or lifting heavy weights can be risky, especially during the second trimester. Also there are specific positions that need to be avoided. Taking all of this into account plus the fact that pregnancies do differ in each individual, it is important to consult your specialist doctor or obstetrician before commencing any new exercise programme while pregnant.
Once given the OK to exercise, it is important to exercise consistently. Below is a simple exercise routine that can be done at home. Please note that you should not experience any pain except muscle pain; if at any stage you start feeling pain in your spine or joints, stop immediately and consult your physiotherapist. Repeat each exercise twelve times.
1. CORE MUSCLES
While the term ‘core’ applies to all the muscles
WHILE EXERCISING IF YOU START FEELING PAIN IN YOUR SPINE OR JOINTS, IMMEDIATELY STOP.
that stabilise our spine and joints, in this exercise we are referring to the core muscles of the lower stomach and back. Even though the only way to make sure that they are being activated correctly is to have them assessed using Real Time Ultrasound, these exercises will still help you to start engaging them.
i) Lie on your back with your knees bent. Switch on your lower stomach muscles. Slowly straighten one leg out in front, then return to the starting position.
Harder version: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Switch on your lower stomach muscles. Hold your arms out in front (elbows straight). Slowly straighten out one leg, taking the arms up above your head at the same time, then return to the starting position.
Note: if you are in your second or third trimester, check with your obstetrician whether it’s still safe for you to do exercises lying on your back.
ii) Kneeling on the floor, on all fours, slowly straighten one leg out behind you, then bring it back.
Harder version: Kneeling on the floor, slowly straighten out opposite arm and leg, then bring them back.
2. BRIDGING (STRENGTHENS THE BUTTOCK MUSCLES)
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Switch on your lower stomach muscles. Raise
the buttocks off the bed and hold for five seconds.
if you can’t lie on your back try the
following version instead: Kneeling, straighten one leg out behind you. Make sure that the lower stomach muscles are on.
3. CLAM SHELLS AND LEG RAISES (STRENGTHENS THE OUTER HIP MUSCLES)
Clam shells: Lying on your side, have the knees bent. Keep the heels together and lift the top knee up, then bring it back down.
leg raises: Lying on your side, have your legs straight. Lift the top leg up into the air (not too high). Make sure your trunk does not move or roll backwards. Then bring your leg back down.
4. WALL PUSH-UPS (HELP IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE)
Keeping the shoulder blades down and back, perform a wall push-up (short range). Harder version: As above but perform the wall push-up using one arm.
5. PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Engage your core, then squeeze around the front and back passages. Make sure that you don’t tighten your buttocks (only the pelvic floor muscles should be working). You should feel a definite letting go when you relax. This exercise can also be done in a sitting position.
Margarita gurevich is Senior Physiotherapist at Health point physiotherapy. She completed B. Phty degree at La Trobe University and Diploma of SCENAR Therapy in Moscow SCENAR Centre. Margarita extensively uses Clinical Pilates,
sCeNar therapy & other evidence-based techniques, including Real Time Ultrasound and McKenzie treatment. She specialises in Sports Injuries, Women’s Health (including incontinence) and gastrointestinal issues.
WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST ON YOUR PREGNANCY JOURNEY!