During pregnancy, most women develop a split in their abdominal muscles. Sit-ups increase the abdominal pressure and encourage the split between the abdominal muscles, making the recovery of these muscles after childbirth slower and problematic.
Sit ups do NOT strengthen the core stabilisers. It does NOT work the core stabilisers, the transversus abdominus and multifidus. These muscles need to be trained to help with the recovery of the split in the abdominal muscles.
Sit ups is a dynamic exercise, specifically training the prime movers which often inhibits the activity of the core stabilisers from working. Without the strong base of core stability, sit ups can cause back pain, as it puts extra pressure on the discs of the lower back. It also increases the risk of injuring the discs and causing long term lower back pain.
Exercise Myth Busted
“You Shouldn’t Exercise While Pregnant”
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
Exercises to avoid:
• 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