Benefits of exercises during pregnancy:
First, make sure you are working with someone who is pre-and post-natal certified, and who is comfortable working with pregnant clients (i.e. has experience). There are also key issues your training program should focus on:
- Strengthening your pelvic floor and TVA. Making those muscles as strong and flexible as possible greatly eases your baby’s entry into the world.
- Addressing posture. During pregnancy, due to a shifting center of gravity and increased weight in the front of the body, women develop what is known as Kyphotic-Lordodic posture. This means you are overly rounded through the upper back and hyperextended in the low back. Stretching the lumbar spine, hamstrings, hip flexors and pectorals while strengthening the TVA, spinal extensors and upper back muscles is critical to minimizing this postural deviation that often causes discomfort and low back pain.
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- Never start a new exercise regimen during pregnancy. Only do what your body is already used to. If you weren’t a runner before getting pregnant, now is not the time to start training for your first 5K.
- Avoid working out in hot or humid weather or if you have a temperature. While your bodies thermoregulatory system improves during pregnancy, you still need to be mindful of overheating.
- Avoid overexertion. Do not use a heart rate monitor during pregnancy to gauge exertion because they are inaccurate during pregnancy. Instead, ACSM recommends using a scale of perceived exertion. Keep your effort level between a 5 and 8 on a scale of 1-10. You should feel slightly tired but still be able to converse in full sentences.
- Hydrate! Drink plenty of water to avoid overheating or dehydration.
- Abdominal work of the rectus abdominus should be avoided after the first trimester, as should all exercises lying flat on your back.
- Be mindful of your range of motion. During pregnancy laxity of ligaments increases, so try to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints and avoid overstretching. Due to laxity of the joints, low impact cardio is recommended over high impact.
- Avoid strong rotation of the pelvis and inversions after the first trimester.
- Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.
- Avoid strong contraction of the adductors (inner thighs) as the pelvis is malleable at the pubic symphysis joint where they attach.
- Always start with a warm up and include a cool down that lasts at least 5 to 10 min
- Just in case you didn’t know, avoid contact and extreme sports, scuba diving and skiing.
For more information about pregnancy guidelines visit: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy