Many women are afraid of exercising whilst pregnant, however it is highly dependent on what type of exercises you choose to do.
For example it is very important to maintain the strength and stability of your joints especially your pelvis. During pregnancy the ligaments that support your pelvis become more relaxed, which means you are more dependent on your muscles for stability.
If you have weak muscles you are at risk of back and pelvic pain. Maintaining the strength of the muscles that support the joints will reduce the pain and support your pelvis during labour.
The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
There are many other benefits of taking part in a specific exercise program designed for you and your body’s needs such as:
• Improved strength of your back and gluteal (buttocks) muscles which can help manage back pain as your baby grows • Improved posture • Improved core and pelvic floor control • Improved circulation • Weight management • Improved sleep and stress relief • Prepares your body for labour • Recover from labour faster = faster return to pre-pregnancy fitness and a healthy weight
All of the above positive outcomes will allow your pregnancy to be a much smoother process for you and your baby.
Exercises that are safe during pregnancy:
• Pilates – core and pelvic floor strength and stability • Specifically chosen resistance exercises for increasing your strength • Walking • Swimming
Exercises to avoid:
• Running • Cycling • Contact sports • After approximately 16 weeks you should avoid exercises lying on your back due to the risk of your baby slowing the return of blood to your heart. Exercises in side lying, standing or sitting are fine. • Jumping or activities that risk falling such as skiing or horse riding
Recommendations for you:
We recommend that before you decide to exercise whilst pregnant you must speak to a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist to design a program specific for you. That way you know that the exercises you are doing are safe and will benefit you and your baby! Please share this article with your expecting friends or contact MD Health on 03 9857 0644 for a FREE Full Body Assessment. We would be happy to help design a program for you!
Article written by Beth Chiuchiarelli Exercise Physiologist at MD Health
Pelvic Joint Dysfunction is a common problem during pregnancy and is related to hormonal effects on the ligaments/joints, weight gain and postural changes during pregnancy.
This blog article will help you with the common problems associated with pelvic joint dysfunction during pregnancy. It should be used in combination with MD Health’s Physiotherapist’s/Exercise Physiologist’s advice.
The pain associated with this problem tends to occur when there has been asymmetrical distribution of forces (i.e. putting more weight through one leg compared with the other).
Activities that may aggravate the pain:
Walking up stairs
Getting in/out of bed or the car
Jogging, long walks
Rolling side to side in bed
Single leg stance
Activities that may help relieve/reduce the pain:
Try and keep distribution of forces equal between the legs
When rolling in bed, put a pillow between your knees and roll with knees together on either side of the pillow
When getting in or out of the car, try and keep order ativan online your knee together and swivel on your bottom
When walking, use smaller steps to decrease the time spent on one leg
When walking, maintain good posture and try not to waddle because this places increasing stress on the spine and hips
Ensure that you use correct sitting and standing postures
Abdominal and buttock muscle strengthening exercises- incorporate these into activities of daily living whenever possible:
Gently lift your pelvic floor muscles and pull your lower abdominal’s in toward your spine
Squeeze your bottom (particularly when lifting or getting up from sitting)
Keep your back upright
Keep breathing normally
When seated, use arms to take more of the load (i.e. pushing off a chair with arms rather than an increased force through the legs)
Rest in horizontal position
Wear flat heels-well cushioned insole
You may need an abdominal brace to help decrease the load on the pelvis
Studies have shown that only 10% of women exercise during pregnancy, therefore many women have not exercised regularly for quite some time. However definite gains have been found from beginning a gentle exercise program early in the post natal period. Time for exercising is not neglecting your baby but making you more able to care for your baby. This article is designed to give you advice on returning to exercise in the postnatal period. If you have any queries regarding this information feel free to contact any of our staff at MD Health.
• Allow recovery, pace yourself • Pelvic Floor and deep abdominals must come first • Gradual progression: core, low load, low impact • Increase slowly and gradually • It is safe to start walking at about 2 weeks. Begin with a short walk and slowly increase distance over the following weeks. Keep the walks to maximum of 15 to 30 minutes during the first 4 weeks. • The safe time frame for return to impact exercise or weight training is around 12 weeks postnatally but individual assessment is imperative • The general guidelines for return to normal exercise, would be to gradually progress from light walking (distance and speed) at approximately 6 weeks and recommence weight training at very low levels • Swimming may be commenced at approximately 6 weeks post delivery
• Breast Support • Feed prior to exercise if possible • Attention to calories and hydration • Avoid high impact or heavily resisted exercise for 12 weeks or longer • Avoid stressing or straining the pelvic floor or deep abdominal muscles • Avoid prolonged standing • Avoid overloading the spine or abdominal exercises that are overly intense • If a separation (diastisis) of the abdominal’s is present, avoid curls until the diastisis is reduced
• Pelvic floor contractions • Do not progress to weight work or impact if unable to control bladder or bowel. Seek advice where necessary • Train to contract pelvic floor with deep abdominal prior to lifting • Commence with simple transverse abdominal (TA) in drawing. Only progress to abdominal curl when diastisis has reduced (closed) and when you are able to maintain deep contraction throughout whole curl
Demystifying Pilates: Who is Pilates for and when is the best time to start Pregnancy Pilates?
As long as we have been doing Clinical Pilates with clients we have been we have been performing Pregnancy Pilates with women during their pregnancies. Just like our last blog, to best demonstrate how Clinical Pilates works during pregnancy, I will give an example with a fictional client
Pilates for Megan, 32 year old lady, who is a working professional and pregnant for the first time. She wants to do exercise during her pregnancy, but wants it supervised by a professional.
Megan is a typical client that comes to see us to start Pilates during her pregnancy. Megan is a HR professional, who is now 13 weeks pregnant with her first pregnancy. She doesn’t have any problems at the moment, but has had previous occasional episodes of back pain, which had gone away on their own. As always, we start with a Full Body Assessment to find out the aims of her program and any major issues that we need to address during her program. Megan wants to
• Maintain a normal weight during her pregnancy
• Improve muscle tone for the pregnancy
As Megan is 13 weeks pregnant, we do not have any major restricted into terms of testing, however, if she was over 16 weeks pregnant, we would be a bit limited in testing as we would not want Megan lying on her back for testing (The blood supply to the legs is affected at that stage). Megan’s assessment findings indicate early signs of pelvic (SIJ) instability, the most common issue and cause of back pain during pregnancy. In general, Megan has relatively weak muscle tone, especially around the gluteals, which is a major contributing factor to the pelvic instability. We also ask Megan to return to us a specific clearance letter from her obstetrician, which makes sure she is medically safe to exercise Megan starts our 13 week Pilates program. On the first day as always we start by testing Megan’s core stability. Normally we would test this via ultrasound, but during pregnancy we do this manually. Megan has level 3 control on both sides (Is unable to maintain core stability when bringing the leg out to the side). On day 1 it is important to get a good idea of the basics, in particular, activation of the core stabilisers, activation of the gluteal muscles ( The major stabilisers of the pelvis to minimise pelvic instability) and shoulder blade control (The major stabilisers of the upper half of the body). On Megan’s modafinil online second session, we focus even more on the gluteals, starting with exercises for these muscles, incorporating a core stability exercise and then returning to working on the gluteals. Over the next few weeks we continue to work on all the major muscle groups, with particular focus on the gluteals and core stabilisers. We take advantage of the fact that Megan can lie on her back in the first 3 weeks of her program (before week 16), so there is a strong focus on core stability. After week 16, we work on these muscles in different positions. Megan has no complaints of pelvic pain, even though it was present on her assessment. At week 7 (week 20 of her pregnancy) we do Megan’s re-assessment. She is doing well, no pelvic pain and improved muscle tone and core stability. Megan is happy with her program and her goals are unchanged. As we are happy with Megan’s progress and there are no major complications we are able to progress Megan to a 4 on 1 program, although if there are any issues in the future, we would bring her straight back to a 2 on1 program to supervise her more closely. There are still some signs of pelvic instability, however, again Megan doesn’t have any pain in the area. At about week 10 into Megan’s program (Week 23 of her pregnancy), Megan begins to complain of some buttock pain. We assess the area again and testing shows pelvic instability once again, which is not unusual at this stage of pregnancy. Megan is brought back down to the 2 on 1 classes so we can manage her pelvic pain, by focussing more on the gluteal muscles and particular treatments that also help reduce pelvic pain. Megan continues her program until week 36 of her pregnancy. Her pelvic pain is on and off, but manageable through her pregnancy. At this stage, although Megan used to feel really good after her sessions, she now feels more tired after a session. This is her body telling her its time to slow down and is a good time to stop exercising. Megan has an emergency ceaserian at week 39, but gets through the birth well. At week 6 after the birth of her baby, she gives us a call. Her obstetrician has given her the clear to start exercising again and we are re-commence her program after a re-assessment (Although this is a fictional example, this is a very typical example of our Pilates clients)
Can the amount of sunlight you get when you’re pregnant effect the health of your baby? It looks like the answer is yes.
Vitamin D is a vitamin we produce in our skin that effects the amount of calcium the body absorbs and is important of bone growth and development.
The primary status of vitamin D for the child during pregnancy and during breast feeding, is the mother’s vitamin D status. Poor vitamin D levels in children can lead to reduced growth, reduced long term bone density, important to prevent the development of osteoporosis later in life and in cases of severe deficiency a problem called rickets. This is when the bones begin to bow as the bony skeleton does not form properly and the bones do not harden the way they should.
Other extremely important implications of poor vitamin D status are in your child’s early stages of life. Normal vitamin D levels in the first year of life means an 80% reduction in the risk of developing type 1 diabetes and a 40% reduction in development of rheumatoid arthritis later in life, to name just two.
What do you do?
Firstly, make sure you when you’re pregnant and when you are breastfeeding, you and your child get some sunlight during the day. This does not mean staying outside all day, as you do not want to increase your risk of skin cancer, but just 10 minutes of an exposed arm or leg in sunlight between 10am and 3pm a day. Or, speak to your doctor about getting a blood test to check your vitamin D status and they can help you work out the best options to get your vitamin D status normal.