Pilates throughout Pregnancy (Part 2)
Let’s look a little more in depth at how your body changes during pregnancy and how Pilates
can help with these:
Lower Spinal Changes
The most obvious change as the baby develops is, of course, an increase in the size of your
tummy. This actually leads to a change in your centre of gravity, causing the spine to alter
its alignment to cope and remain upright. The resultant forward tilt of the pelvis and
increased curve in the low back can not only lead to low back
ache but also instigate rounded shoulders and neck strain.
Pilates can help with this by training the deep muscles and
outer ‘slings’ of muscles that keep the spine supported and
stable. It’s basically like wearing a lumbar support belt!
Shoulder Strain
The shoulder girdle (muscles in the shoulder region and upper back) also has the added load
of developing breasts, making the upper back even more prone to
rounding and strain. Breathing also can become shallower and
more difficult as the diaphragm becomes compromised with the
growing size of the uterus.
Pilates can help by strengthening the muscles of posterior
shoulders and upper back to avoid strain. It also stretches and
opens the chest, allowing for a more open posture and easier
breathing.
Pelvic Floor
This is one that worries many women and with good reason; pelvic floor weakness and
incontinence are common both pre and post natal. Basically the muscles of the abdomen
and pelvic floor become stretched under the weight of the baby causing up to 45% of
mothers to have ongoing incontinence issues up to 7 yrs after birth.
This is one problem, however, that clinical Pilates excels at solving: with specific pelvic floor
training, incontinence can be both prevented and rectified. This cannot be said of any other
form of exercise!
Unstable Joints
The release of the hormone ‘Relaxin’ peaks at about week 14, causing the joints of the body
to become more unstable. Guided stability exercises from the outset of pregnancy for the
core as well as the hips/pelvis will help to reduce potential problems/injuries both during
and after the pregnancy.
The body is amazing in its ability to adapt to the changing demands of pregnancy and birth
but, as we have seen, some of those adaptations can cause problems ranging from
discomfort right through to serious pain and damage. Ideally, you want to be in the best
shape you can be before pregnancy but starting to prepare soon after will help significantly.
And Pilates, as we explored in Part 1, is the ideal form of exercise both pre and postnatal.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your pregnancy fitness with a specialist
prenatal physiotherapist, then contact me, Sally, on 0404 366 363 / [email protected]
I’d love to hear from you.
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Pilates throughout Pregnancy Part 2