PILATES: EXERCISES FOR PREGNANCY
Here’s my pick of safe exercises for you to do throughout your pregnancy. These are suitable for first and second trimester and into the third if you are feeling up to it.
Exercises for first trimester.
1. Bridge – Lie flat on the floor on your back with the hands by your side and your knees bent, with feet at hip distance apart. Take a breath in and out, gently lifting pelvic floor muscles. Pushing mainly with your heels, lift hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. Lengthen spine as you lift hips, squeezing the butt muscles and backs of thighs. Keep knees at hip distance and maintain firm press down through your arms. Slowly go back to the starting position as you breathe in. Repeat 2 x10
2. Triangle Leg Raise – Laying on your side, bring both legs in front of you at about a 45-degree angle, other hand supporting your head. Keep a long spine, flex bottom leg (toes up, knee straight.) Keeping hips steady and stacked, lift top leg up with control and resist as you lower it down in front of the other leg, tapping the floor. Lift back up to the triangle point and then tap leg behind the other one, without shifting your hips or falling forward. A great core stabiliser. Repeat 10 x each side.
3. Warrior Stretch – Turn your right foot out, other foot forward. Your left heel should line up with the centre of your right foot. Take the legs wide, so when you bend the right knee, your knees are over your heels, not your toes. Take arms out to sides. If you have low blood pressure keep hands on hips, shoulder blades down and back. Inhale, bend your knee and hold, exhale slowly and stretch the knee straight again, lifting your knees up by tightening your thighs. Bend and stretch five times then hold for five breaths. Repeat other side. Great for grounding and balancing energy and building leg strength.
Exercises for the second trimester.
1. Pushup – Great for upper body strength and tone. You can continue to do these on your knees or toes during first trimester, but modify to knees or leaning against a wall or bench for mid trimester to third trimester. Take hands slightly wider than shoulders apart, keep your spine long and shoulders back. Inhale to lower, exhale to push up. Repeat 10 to 20 x 2 to 3 sets.
2. Squat – Great for lower body strength for glutes and legs. Take knees a bit wider than hips, legs slightly turned out. Maintain a long spine and chest lifted. Inhale, lower your hips as though you are sitting on a chair (you can actually sit on a chair during pregnancy for these), exhale and squeeze your butt as you come up. Arms out in front, with hands on hips. If unsteady – hold onto a chair or wall. Repeat 15 x 3 sets.
3. Pointer – Great for core stability and deeper tummy strength and balance. Hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Gently draw up through your pelvic floor. Lift the back of your neck. Inhale to prepare, exhale, stretch out your opposite arm and leg, hold for a couple of breaths and return to start without moving hips. Your goal is the keep pelvis stable. Repeat 10 x 2 sets.
4. Side Leg Raise – Great for glute strength and thigh tone, plus a nice stretch for the side of your body. If you are experiencing low blood pressure and into third trimester place your hand on hip rather than overhead. Kneeling up, place one
leg straight out to the side. Place opposite hand directly under your shoulder, keeping chest open. Draw shoulder blades down and in, gently draw up through pelvic floor. Reach arm overhead (or hand on hip). Keeping leg slightly forward of the body, heel down, leg straight, slowly lift the leg up then down feeling like you are resisting against water. Inhale to lift, exhale to lower. Repeat 10 x 2 sets each side.
For your cardio work, I recommend walking and light aerobic work, maintaining your heart rate below 140bpm.
For more help with pregnancy workouts head to www.vanessabhealth.com ‘YouTube’ channel.
Vanessa Bartlett has 14 years’ experience in the fitness industry and has appeared as a presenter for TVSN, The Morning Show and co-hosted a community TV Lifestyle show. In 2013, she was part of a group award for ‘Innovation in Healthcare’ and is on a mission to empower people to become educated in holistic health practices, powered by Pilates. See Vanessa’s website for further information.