Seven reasons why Pilates is a great exercise method for females DURING pregnancy.
Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise you can do during pregnancy. It “ticks all the boxes” (I really dislike that saying!) but it really does. It’s safe, low-impact, totally focuses on the exact areas you need to focus on and can be done for the duration of the pregnancy. Just in case you’re not completely sold, here are some further reasons as to why prenatal Pilates is so beneficial.
• A safe and effective way to build strength, low-impact, non-jarring and gentle on joints.
• Useful to counteract the postural changes of pregnancy with particular focus on strengthening/stretching the areas that change the most.
• Less likely to cause any injuries and help prevent injuries that may occur as a result the pregnancy.
• Ideal for mobility and movement.
• Helpful in reducing fatigue and improve mental alertness (may help with that “baby brain”)!
• Ideal to make you better prepared and stronger Post-Pregnancy by specifically targeting areas that need to be strengthened/stretched. E.g. strengthening back and shoulders and stretching/opening chest in preparation for the physical strain of round the clock breastfeeding.
• Helpful when creating a bond between mum and bub due to the connection of mind and body, creating more awareness of the body with changes both physically and mentally.
Three great Pilates exercises to include in your PRENATAL routine would be:
(please note that it’s always best to seek medical advice (ideally seeing a physio specialising in women’s health) before undertaking any exercise prescription, the following exercise recommendations are also based on a smooth pregnancy with no complications and/or limitations).
Four Point Kneeling: Superman –
WHY: it is a safe position to focus on strengthening deep transverse abdominis by encouraging balance and stability. (Include cat stretch/cow in same position to focus on spine mobility).
HOW: Kneeling on all fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips. Lift one arm and the opposite leg in line with your body, hold for one breath and alternate sides. Watch that you are staying stable on the mat and not “rocking” side to side. Maintain the abdominal connection throughout (think navel to spine and pelvic floor lifting).
Side Lying Leg Series: Clam–
WHY: it helps strengthen muscles around hips (and obliques) for stabilising pelvis, especially important with the added pregnancy load.
HOW: Lying on your side with bottom arm folded up under your head as a pillow, make sure your body is in one straight line (I use the back of the mat as a guide). Bend your knees at 45 degrees so heels are in line with your bottom. Lift heels off the ground, keep heels pressed together and turn toes out so feet are in a V position. Open the top leg only so far that the hip does not roll back and close (imagine you’re pulling open and pressing closed against resistance to keep the action strong). Repeat action 10 times and add 10 pulses to the last repetition.
WHY: Mermaid is a beautiful stretch to help lengthen through our sides and stretch into back and hips. Care should be taken when stretching during pregnancy due to the increased hormone relaxin which can cause women to stretch beyond their limits. Always ease into it gently, never bounce and breathe.
HOW: Seated side-ways on the mat with right leg curled in towards you and left leg curled away from you, slide down onto your right elbow while reaching the left arm over the top of your head. Rotate the left arm to the ground and continue to “walk” it forward while trying to lower your head to the mat. Hold for one breath then rotate back to the centre, all the way over to the other side, left hand hold the left foot and right arm stretches up and over. That’s one side. Swap leg position and repeat on the other side.