During the stages of pregnancy it is good to exercise. The Pilates Method is a great choice because it is aimed at meeting individual needs, rather than one size fits all. In Pilates every movement is carefully controlled for maximum effect. To work it requires concentration. Is the navel drawn towards the spine? Are the feet in the correct position and is the head/neck aligned with the spine? Is your breathing correct?
Pilates teaches us that the placing and moving of every part of your body counts and the body works as an integrated system. The more you use your body correctly during exercise the more you will use it correctly in everything you do. The body’s posture improves and tension is relieved from tight and over contracted muscles.
In the early stages of Pilates it is important to learn its Principles. These Principles make up key elements which are applied to each exercise in order to perform it correctly and get its continued benefit.
Breathing: The Breathing principle helps us to relax and centre ourselves. It also helps reduce stress and keep us focused. When we breathe in and out it helps us become aware of our rib cage which helps us to reduce tension in the neck, upper back muscles, chest and shoulders. Thinking of the ribs as an accordion and its lateral expansion helps us to stop uncontrolled spinal movement while breathing deep into the lower lobes of the lungs. Neck tension can arise from a poor breathing. This is particularly important during pregnancy because of the constant changes in the body. Hormones help relax muscles out and effect posture. Keeping postural muscles strong and oxidised is needed.
Pelvis: Establishing a neutral pelvis and learning about how to control muscles and positioning of bones is a principle which helps us with lower back and hip strength and also Pelvic floor and abdominal strength.
When we look at exercise within pregnancy and injury prevention there are key areas to strengthen, lengthen and also facts to know.
Pelvic Floor: Conditioning of the pelvic floor muscles helps reduce the risk of Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. It helps Pelvic strengthening in turn helps increase lower back strength. Learning the technique of breathing and pelvic floor engagement is the gateway to strengthening and sensating abdominal strength.
Drawing up your pelvic floor muscles is meant to be a light recruitment or engagement. If you were to draw up your muscles from underneath i.e. front and back passage full strength you wouldn’t be able to hold it very long. The Pelvic floor muscles are best worked at a lower level. A good image is imagining you are slowly pulling a tissue out of a box or 20/30% of maximum contraction.
To put it all together.
Sit on a hard chair, observe your sit bones, lift tall through the top of your head.
Place your hands on your ribs, either side.
Breathe in and feel your ribs expand in your hands
Breathe out slowly draw up your pelvic floor muscles and pull your naval in and up
This basic abdominal exercise helps with lower back stability and abdominal strength.
Exercise during Pregnancy helps-
- Strengthen and keep joints fluid and moving well
- Reduce swelling and blood pooling in later trimesters
- Helps lordosis, increased arch in lower back (Abdominal strength/obliques)
- Kyphosis (excessive roundness in upper back due to posture changes)
Pilates Principles also include –
Head and Cervical Spine positioning and movement. This helps with neck tension. Promotes correct movement patterns. Teaches correct technique with deep neck muscle activation and reduces jaw pain and headaches.
Scapula stabilization and movement. This principle focuses on the shoulder girdle, its parts, movements and possible poor posture implications. Poor alignment in this area can lead to shoulder pain, neck and upper back tension. Standing tall and pulling your shoulders back doesn’t quite help this area. The optimal position of the shoulder blade is to have is flush against the rib cage with ease. Also our shoulders should move smoothly in various movements. Teaching shoulder stability is an essential part of upper body patterning.
- Workout and schedule adjusted to mothers energy levels.
- Ensure adequate hydration.
- Mind breast sensitivity which lying prone (modify)
- Prepare for postural changes (lordosis/kyphosis)
- Discontinue supine position after 20 wks (effects blood supply)
- Avoid vigorous exercise which may redistribute blood flow away from the uterus
- Keep to safe range of movement, not the right time to be working on increasing flexibility, due to relaxin hormones. The body is in a more relaxed physical state.
- Possibility of Diastasis Recti, a separation in the midline of the abdominals.
- Balance will also be affected by these postural changes. Pilates exercises will help with these changes.
Pre natal workouts using equipment that facilitates exercises in the semi-reclined, sitting or standing position will be useful.
- Exercises should be modified according to the participant’s individual size and ability. Exercises will mostly be performed in quadruped position (4 point kneeling), sitting, side lying or standing.
- Rectus Diastasis test can be done by a trained professional. Low load abdominal engagement in four point kneeling can prevent abdominal weakness.
- Pregnant women should exercise with the permission of their physician.
- Endorphins naturally produced during exercise will increase sense of well being at any stage of pregnancy and post-partum
Life Balance Pilates offer specialized Pregnancy Pilates. These classes have a unique ability to suit individual needs both during or after pregnancy using the high standards of STOTT Pilates exercise protocol. Our class includes small props and are small in numbers. Pilates assists in alignment which is important during pregnancy as the posture changes and hormones leave the body in a more relaxed state. Pilates helps keep postural muscles strong and leaves you feeling confident. We also focus on injury and pain prevention from lower back pain, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and muscular discomfort.
Our post natal classes help clients tone and strengthen abdominal and hip muscles which also help realign the body back to normal specific instruction is crucial to prevent rectus diastasis (abdominal wall weakening). The breathing in Pilates helps take stress off the upper back by allowing the ribs to move and releases diaphragm tension which helps with lower back and abdominal discomfort.
Classes at Life Balance Pilates, 6 Brookfield Avenue, Blackrock
PreNatal Tuesday 10.15
PostNatal Thursday 11.00
10% discount for Cuidiú Members applies
Contact Joe 086 3468261 for further information